For Valentine’s Day, Give the Gift of Preparedness

Weather forecasts warn of a snow and ice storm that will hit a swath of states in the Midwest, Northeast and South early next week. Why not use the forecast as inspiration for this year’s Valentine’s Day gift? Instead of buying loved ones flowers or chocolates, make them a disaster preparedness food kit, advises Pinar Keskinocak (ISyE William W. George Chair and ADVANCE Professor)  and Julie Swann (ISyE Harold R. and Mary Anne Nash Professor), co-directors of Georgia Tech's Health & Humanitarian Logistics Center.

Did you know that many grocery stores only have enough food in their inventory for a few days? We know what those stores will look like after we rush in a panic to get enough milk, bread, eggs and canned soup to last until the storm passes and the roads are clear. But our stores may not be able to get a resupply quickly if the roads are closed to their distribution center. What do we do then?

It is easy to fix the problem of enough food. Every household should have enough staples to last at least two weeks. The amount and type of food to keep depends on your family size, eating habits, and preferences. 

Here are some staples to consider:

  • Cans of beans
  • Cans of fruit and vegetables
  • Cans of tuna
  • Jars of peanut butter
  • Soup/chili
  • Bags of rice
  • Bottles of water
  • Dried milk
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt and sugar
  • Coffee (for the caffeine addict in the family)
  • Splurge item to break up the monotony

If you don’t have the time or energy to pick out your own items, you can get prepackaged kits from Amazon or other sources, some with a shelf life of 10 years.

The best combo may be one-two weeks of the staples mentioned, plus enough food to feed a family of five for a month. Add a few other items – flashlight, hand crank radio, and cash (including coins) – and you’ll have a good start.

September’s National Preparedness Month already passed us by, but I think I’ll send my loved ones a disaster preparedness bucket for Valentine’s Day. Just to show I care.

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  • ISyE's William W. George Chair and ADVANCE Professor Pinar Keskinocak

  • ISyE Harold R. and Mary Anne Nash Professor Julie Swann

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