Short-Term Food and Water Checklist

Short-Term Food and Water Disaster Preparedness Checklist

Stocking food and water is one of the most basic and important preparations you can make in case of a disaster. Without food and water, your survival will be a much more difficult ordeal than it would have been had you taken some simple steps to be prepared.

This article will discuss the quantity and types of supplies you’ll need to stock in case of a short-term disaster. We’ll also discuss some of the things you can do to prepare for being caught without food or water.

Short-Term Disaster Planning for Food and Water

A short-term disaster is any situation where you would be unable to obtain food or water for some short period of time. The assumption is that you will be either trapped or sheltered in your home to avoid some disaster. This would typically be a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

A disaster like this would take from a week up to 30 days and require the ability to survive and keep you and your family safe for this period of time.

Short-Term Water Checklist

In the case of a natural disaster, one of the first services that frequently fails is the water supply. This is also the most critical to your comfort and survival. Drinking bad water can cause sickness or even death after a bacterial infection making a tainted water supply another threat you will have to address.

The American Red Cross recommends a gallon of water a day per person for survival. So lets imagine what this would look like. Assume for a minute we would store water in one gallon milk jugs, which is not the best idea but we’ll discuss that in a minute. For a family of four you would need 120 milk jugs for a 30 day supply of fresh water. Now consider that milk jugs don’t stack well and you start to understand the problem with creating a long-term water supply.

So here is the checklist for your short-term supply.

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day (plan for 2-4 weeks for a supply)
  • storage container for short-term water supply
  • water purification tablets

Since containers like milk jugs break down over time lasting approximately a year, this can be an issue when trying to create a lasting supply of water. This makes the storage container one of the biggest issues with storing water. If you have the room, using a rigid storage container for 5 gallons of water is the ideal solution but it takes up a lot of room and is expensive. For a 120 day supply you can expect to pay up to $500 for just the containers. Here is an example of a Coleman rigid storage water container that would work for serious water storage.

Another option that might be more viable is a solution like the waterBob emergency 100 gallon storage. It weights about 2 pounds when not filled and can be stored easily. When you need it, it requires only about 20 minutes of filling and you have 100 gallons of water stored in a safe container in your bathtub. Since it costs $25 for 100 gallons, it’s a much more affordable solution in a pinch.

Short-Term Food Checklist

Storing food for waiting out a natural disaster requires more creativity than you might think. You have to assume that you will need to last up to 30 days since you will not have access to your local grocery store and you likely won’t have the required utilities to use your refrigerator, oven or microwave.

Before we continue, lets get one thing out of the way. Do not stock diet food for an emergency. You want the opposite. You need high-energy (high-calorie) food that stores well and is easy to prepare with the most basic supplies. Now on to the details.

A basic checklist for your short-term food supply might look like this.

  • 2 meals per day per person
  • Canned foods, fruits and vegetables
  • Canned or powdered juices, milk and soup
  • High energy foods including peanut butter, trail mix and granola bars
  • Supplies such as salt, pepper, sugar

This just means thinking through both the supplies you need and then acquiring them as you can. An easy approach to obtaining your supplies is to buy a kit for short-term like the Wise Company 60 Entrée Grab and Go Food Kit.


A little planning will go a long way towards surviving and thriving in a short-term disaster. Don't get caught be surprise. Make sure you have plans and checklists for both food and water for whatever types of short-term disasters are most likely to occur in your area.