Emergency Prep- Food Safety
When an emergency situation arises, food may be the last thing on your mind. But when a hurricane or tornado strikes, causing floods and power outages- you will wish you had prepared. Eating improperly stored food or contaminated water can cause serious illness to adults and children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides tips for keeping food safe in the event of a natural disaster.
General Emergency Preparation
- Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer.
- The freezer temperature should be at or below 0 °F.
- The refrigerator should be at or below 40 °F.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately.
- Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold.
- Have extra ice available for coolers. Consider purchasing dry ice.
- Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
- Make sure all other food is stored in cabinets or on shelves in case of flooding.
- Make sure all bottled water is stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding.
Power Outages and Floods
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.
- Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters.
- If you don't have bottled water, boil water to make it safe.
- If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach.
- If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling.
- Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water (not even canned food).
- Wash countertops, metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils (including can openers) with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse, and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest water available).
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