Heat wave vs my food/water stores

It’s gonna be real darn warm in Seattle/Puget Sound. The water storage article says that heat is one of the main enemies of water storage, and I can’t find the spec right now but remember reading that upgrade pick for food supply is best stored between something like 50 and 65 degrees F.

My home, like many in Seattle, has no A/C — should I expect my food & water stores to go bad? The water I can change out post-heatwave (a hassle, but possible), but the food stores can only be replaced by re-purchasing. As climate change continues, I expect temperature changes to become more extreme, and I don’t know how to mitigate the effect of these temperature changes against my food/water stores without a full HVAC system.


  • Comments (16)

    • 6

      Yes, high temps will shorten the life span of much stored food.  Only way to prevent that is to find a way to keep it cool.  You don’t have to have a full HVAC system.  My food stores are in a special built room in my upper barn, that has its own window AC unit, keeping the temp always 65 or lower.  Your water won’t go bad, especially if you added a bit of chlorine to it.  You just want to keep microbes from growing in it.

      • 4

        Thank you for your response! All our stored water has some bleach in it, so I hope that does the trick!

        Do you know if there’s a way to check whether sealed Mountain House packages have gone bad? I’m in a 475 sqft upper level duplex built 100 years ago 😬

      • 2

        They have a 30 year great taste guarantee, so I’m sure you are going to be just fine unless you leave it in a get home bag out in your 120+ degree car for multiple years. 

        If you are really worried, maybe rotate through them in 25 years just to be safe. 

    • 5

      Lowel, that is a great concern. If I didn’t have AC I would try to store my food in a root cellar (or even dig one, if possible), a basement (again, if you have one), etc. Basically, all the ways our grandfathers would have kept food cool.

      Asd per the water, if the containers are shielded from direct sun, I think you should be fine.

      • 4

        Thank you very much for your response bud! I’m renting space in a duplex (the second floor) so don’t have the opportunity to dig a cellar, but the containers are in the darkest room of the house and away from direct sun. 

    • 5

      Lowell, most of your food should be ok as long as the temps aren’t elevated for a long spell. Since they’re already in a dark area, you could try cooling down that room by opening windows at night (assuming it gets chilly) and then piling some extra bedding over & around your stores during the day to minimize any drastic upswings in temp. 

      • 3

        Using extra bedding as insulation around your food stores is a smart idea. CR know’s what he/she is thinking about!

    • 5

      What I used to do when my car drove, is put water bottles in one of those think Styrofoam shipping bins from SeaBear. They wouldn’t be cold after sitting in a car on a 90 degree day but they would be cool enough to drink. 

      Since you’re renting and probably can’t do anything too invasive and on a budget, you could conceptually get some cheap Styrofoam coolers, pick up some cheap online ones or use some dead air insulation by using one bin inside another with lids, and put stuff in those and they would insulate it from the more extreme temps and maybe even keep everything cool.

      • 4

        Ooo interesting idea! Do you think this be appropriate for a heat wave of several days? In Seattle it’s been above 80F for days now and I’m not sure when it’ll end 

      • 5

        Inside it will eventually get closer to the exterior temp but if they’re stored in the cooler parts of the house, it could be enough to keep everything cool enough. Could always toss some cooled items in to bring down the inside, then remove after a while and let it keep itself cool too. 

        At night, running a fan in a widow to pull in cool, not smoky air and then closing the house up during the day can also keep it very cool and the insulation around the preps would keep it at that cool temp for longer as well.

    • 5

      Lots of good comments and suggestions here.

      You should be fine with your food and water stores if you are keeping things in the coolest and darkest room and out of direct sunlight. Especially if you are normally rotating through your food like your cans of corn and boxes of mac n cheese.

      Your mountain house  will be safe as long as you aren’t exposing it to prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures (100+ or in the negatives probably). 

    • 3

      good morning lowell. it’s been a few days since you posted this topic, and just curious on what you have decided on your food and water supplies.

      are there some you are going to be eating sooner than expected to prevent spoilage? are you doing anything special to help preserve your food and water after hearing from people on here?

      best of luck to you

      • 2

        Thanks for checking in bud! For now I’m not doing anything regarding my food and water stores specifically, beyond trying to keep my home cool for my body’s sake with fans and a swamp cooler we just got for free from an FB Buy Nothing group. 

      • 1

        no prob. glad you are staying cool and found something that works. pretty crazy you got a whole swamp cooler for free off of facebook

    • 4

      Late to the party here. I think the importance of temperature depends on method of storage. Freeze dried foods are preserved by killing pathogens by cooking then lowering the available moisture and perhaps vacuum packing. It is probably the method least affected by temperature. I don’t know but I imagine very high heat would lead to physical or chemical changes eventually but not growth of badness — because microbes can’t grow without moisture.

      After all, drying is the method Mother uses to preserve seeds, they can last thousands of years if they stay dry.

      Ideally stable cold storage is best. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      And water is just water, unless it gets so hot it boils away. I lived in the PNW for a while and I’m sure it feels that way right now, hang in there!

      • 3

        good point about the lack of moisture in freeze dried meals and how they are very resistant to growth of microbes.