Food and water safety precautions when disasters occur
An important part of a family’s emergency plan is knowing what proper food and water safety precautions to take if hurricanes or other disasters occur.
Follow these tips to be prepared for power outages and keep your food safe.
- Place appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer. Check to ensure the freezer temperature is at or below 0 degrees F and the refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees F. In case of a power outage, the thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Group food together in the freezer. If your freezer is not full, stuff it with newspaper to fill the space.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
- Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be safe from flooding.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the doors remain closed.
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
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