If you have a substantial food stockpile in your basement, one of the concerns you may have is keeping it protected and edible. Basements are notorious for being moldy, damp, and musty, which is one reason people are leery of keeping things down there. But, if you have a dry basement that doesn’t tend to flood, leak, or get damp easily, then you can probably safely keep food down there. Here are some suggestions to help keep food storage safe in the basement.
First, make sure your basement is dry, and leak free. You can check the humidity levels fairly easily by using a humidity gauge. If you consistently see levels over 50 percent, you should invest in a dehumidifier to keep conditions dry.
Before storing anything in the basement, mop the floors with a detergent/water or bleach/water mixture. This will kill any mold that may be starting to grow, but it will also help to keep bugs away
Keep food unopened as long as possible. This means keeping the original packaging in tact until you need to open it. This will help with shelf life, as well as keeping moisture out. Most common food packages aren’t meant for the long term – so if things are going to be stored down there indefinitely (like in an emergency kit, or in bulk storage) you might want to consider putting them into vacuum sealed containers that don’t let additional moisture inside.
Keep food containers away from the wall. Try to store them on open shelving, or in sealed plastic storage totes, as bugs and mice often lurk in the shadows up against baseboards and in corners – so providing that space or an extra barrier to protect your food.
Rotate your canned and non-perishable items periodically. Watch food containers for expiration dates, and replace them with newer items. This way nothing goes to waste, and you still have a well stocked supply in the basement. Along those same lines – if you are buying items for basement storage – you’ll want to choose the ones that don’t have damaged packaging, or that can be easily stored in another container.
If you see signs of mice, you need to deal with that quickly. Mice can wreak havoc on basement food storage with little to know warning. They can eat through packaging, chew things up, and destroy food in a hurry and you don’t want that. Get some mouse traps and look for any places that mice could be entering and try to seal up those places ASAP.
If you have an outside entrance to your basement, make sure those doors close and seal well. This will keep drafts out, and temperatures somewhat regulated. Not to say it won’t get cold or hot depending on the season, but it will help keep them from going from one extreme to the other, which could affect your food storage.
One service you may want to consider paying for every year is pest control. While you can do some DIY methods to keep bugs and rodents out, sometimes – especially if you live in a wooded area or if you keep seeing signs of pests – you may need to call in professionals to help get the problem under control.
Your food supply is an investment and should be treated as such. It could be an invaluable tool in a post disaster situation or in an emergency so you want to keep it well maintained and in clean, safe conditions. Taking steps to protect it from moisture and pests is a smart decision that may require some investment up front, but will be worth it in the long run.