For those who keep a emergency survival kit in their vehicle (sometimes called a 72-hour kit). When summer ends… This is your reminder to rotate/replace your emergency food. Why? Because for most of the summer, it has been a hot vehicle! Keep reading as to how this affects any food kept in your vehicle.
I ALWAYS keep emergency food in my truck. It’s part of my overall 72 hour emergency survival kit.
The vehicle is a logical place to keep extra food, especially since most people spend so much time there (commuting, traveling, and parked while at work).
Someone on the blog said, “The SHTF encounters I have had, involved getting stuck on Turnpikes and Interstates for hours on end, due to accidents further ahead on the road. This taught me to always have some food & drink with me every time I go anywhere now. You never know what’s down the road!”
I too have had my share of insane traffic incidents when I used to work in a big city. Those food bars sure came in handy! (And the water bottles)
The Affect of HEAT vs Food Shelf Life
There’s a problem with keeping emergency food in a vehicle for a long time. The problem is, it’s really a hot vehicle during most of the summer. The shelf life of stored food will be reduced when it’s in a HOT environment (e.g. in a vehicle during the summer).
In fact, for every 10 degrees C (18 degrees F) of temperature rise, the shelf life of food will generally be cut in half!
More on this (Q10 shelf life): Temperature vs. Food Storage
Most food with a stamped date on the packaging is referring to a ‘Use-by’ or ‘Best-by’ date. First of all, these dates are NOT the date at which a food will ‘go bad’ (refer to the linked article for an explanation). With that said, and for the sake of food rotation, lets suppose that this date is your objective…
Let’s say you have food bars in your hot vehicle and the stamped ‘use-by’ date is one year beyond the date of manufacture (which is typical).
Note: Most all shelf life references are to ‘room temperature’, let’s say 72 degrees F.
Well, the shelf life of those food bars (as an example) would be cut in half if the average temperature in your vehicle (over time) was 90-degrees-F. Keep reading for the explanation.
How HOT Can A Vehicle Get
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when outside temperatures are between 80° F – 100° F (27° C – 38° C), vehicles parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131° F – 172° F (55° C – 78° C) !
If the temperature in the vehicle was 150 degrees for the entire time period (which it’s not), the food shelf life which was originally one year would be reduced to about 20 days!
The reality is that the average temperature inside the vehicle will not be 150 degrees. Cooler temperatures during night. The time it takes for the internal temperature to rise and fall. Being parked in the shade. Your actual local climate and weather, etc.. It will all affect the shelf life reduction.
90 degree average (for example)
Let’s say the average temperature inside your (hot) vehicle throughout the summer is 90 degrees. That will cut your shelf life in half. So, simply rotate out those foods (don’t throw them out – just consume them!).
72° (1 year shelf life)
90° (72°+18°) (182 days shelf life)
108° (90°+18°) (91 days shelf life)
126° (108°+18°) (46 days shelf life)
144° (126°+18°) (23 days shelf life)