Southcoast Health offers advice on how to prepare for impending severe weather

Fill your emergency food pantry carefully. When a severe storm is in the forecast, most of us head to the supermarket to load up on supplies. And as last year’s hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico demonstrated, the standard recommendation of a three-day stockpile might not be enough. In fact, some experts suggest preparing for an emergency lasting a minimum of 72 hours and even as long as 10 days.

“It is important to stock up on nutritious foods that will not spoil without refrigeration,” said Stacy Medeiros, registered dietitian with Southcoast Health. “Healthy eating is important even in an emergency.”

Here are her recommendations:

Bottled water: This is the most important supply. Plan for one gallon per person per day.

Prepared foods: Canned soups, vegetables, beans, chili, fish and poultry can be good choices, as long as they are marked low in sodium. High-sodium foods are not only bad for heart health, they will make you thirsty at a time when water is limited. Also, look for tuna and other fish packed in water, rather than oil.

Dried and canned fruit: Choose products that have no added sugar, sweeteners or other additives.

Fresh apples, bananas, oranges and avocado: This produce can stay fresh without refrigeration, are full of vitamins and the apples and oranges will help keep you hydrated.

Dry salami and sausages, beef jerky: Cured meats won’t spoil without refrigeration, but the high sodium can increase your thirst.

Non-perishable milk and juice: This is a good time to stock up on powered milk and boxed milk and juices. They won’t spoil if you lose power and refrigeration.

High-energy foods: Granola, trail mix and energy bars will fuel your body for shoveling in cold temperatures.

Unsalted nuts and nut butters: These are a good source of protein, but avoid nut butters that contain added sugar and partially hydrogenated oil.

Whole grain products: Crackers, bread, and low-sugar whole grain cereals provide healthy carbohydrates.

Dry pet food: Your pets will stay fed even if you lose refrigeration.

Foods for special needs: Stock up on baby formula, high-nutrition shakes for the ill or elderly, and foods required by patients with diabetes or other conditions.

Medications: Make sure you have more than a week’s supply of the medicines you rely on. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about drugs that must be refrigerated, in case you lose power during the storm.

Hygienic supplies: Hand sanitizer and moistened wipes will help you keep clean even when water for bathing is limited. A bottle of unscented liquid chlorine bleach will help keep your surroundings clean and sanitary. Also, stock up on toilet paper and paper towels.

Disposable goods: Paper plates, plastic utensils and garbage bags will keep dirty dishes from piling up if there is no running water.

Utilities: As long as you are at the grocery store, pick up extra batteries and flashlights. A solar charger for your phone and a battery-operated radio will be welcome if the power goes out. Also, having a couple Sterno’s and long stemmed matches or a lighter on hand will help heat up canned goods without electricity.