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Aftershocks, Part 2: The Difference Food Makes

After an earthquake has happened, it is crucial to be as ready as possible for the following aftershocks. So many times, the aftershocks end up wreaking more havoc than the initial quake.

Unfortunately, as was the case in Nepal recently, aftershocks often greatly hinder rescue efforts and so many people are left to try to survive as best they can, relying only on themselves. Often, it takes at least two weeks for communities to get themselves up and running again, so it’s best to be prepared for at minimum two weeks of self-sufficiency.

We may not have anyone to help us, but ourselves — for a couple weeks or more. What’s more, we may have small children, family, friends or neighbours who are hurt or in need of our help.

If you are at home, or you are able to return to where you have hopefully stocked up on provisions, you are well on your way to pulling through an earthquake and its long-drawn-out repercussions.

One 15-year-old boy in Kathmandu, recently, survived for 5 days by eating packages of butter.  

Sometimes, army helicopters or private choppers are able to fly over the cities that have been hit by an earthquake, and drop food or care packages. However, it doesn’t seem wise to wait on this relief, in case it doesn’t come. If you only have a certain amount of food, it is especially important that you ration it.

First of all, you should gather all food that you have access to, and account for it, in categories. Consider which foods will last the longest, versus which foods should be eaten first. If you have thought ahead and purchased some freeze-dried food, such as our Legacy Freeze Dried Food, you will be able to save these for later, since they have a 25 year shelf life, and spread your rations out further.

Using categories such as the following, figure out how much you have of each type of food. Experts recommend weighing your food, as opposed to counting it.

  • perishable fruits and vegetables
  • dairy products
  • meats and other perishable proteins
  • canned, cured, dried and freeze dried goods
  • grains and pasta
  • baking and cooking supplies
  • miscellaneous

Once you have figured out how much food you have, you can break down how many people you are rationing for, and how much each person needs — calorie-wise– to survive. You can use the guideline below for the minimum amount of calories different types of people will need, each day. It’s important to also consider how much energy you are using up, each day. For example, if someone is chopping wood, they will probably need to eat some extra calories.

  • Adult male:  1700
  • Adult female:  1328
  • Elderly male:  1475
  • Elderly female:  1100
  • Teenage male:  1655
  • Teenage female:  1486
  • Youth male:  1230
  • Youth female:  1165
  • Baby/Toddler:  500-1000

After this is done, you can figure out how many calories are in which food items — you may need to estimate — and then start planning meals to stretch the food out as long as you can.

Of course, you have a better chance of coming out of a disaster healthy and strong, if you have planned ahead and stocked your home well with foods that can last a long time.

If you would like to read more about survival amidst earthquakes and their aftershocks, stay tuned later this week, for Aftershocks, Part 3: Finding Your Way in a Trapped City. Or try looking back at our blog, for Aftershocks, Part 1: How to Stay Safe.

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