During hurricane season, it is essential to take the correct precautions regarding food safety to prevent foodborne illnesses. Besides hurricanes, tropical storms can also cause power outages for an undetermined time.
Learn nine practical tips on how to prepare for possible outages:
- Plan for a three-day supply of non-perishable food, pet food, and extra water.
- Make sure your freezer temperature is at or below 0° F, and the refrigerator is at or below 40° F. This temperature prevents rapid bacterial growth and keeps your food longer and safe. The only way to determine food is kept at a safe temperature is by using a thermometer.
- Freeze refrigerated items you will not consume immediately, such as leftovers, milk, and meat.
- The refrigerator can only keep food cold for four hours, so using coolers can keep refrigerated items cold in case power goes off for more than four hours. You can make ice cubes in advance to use in the coolers or refrigerator.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature below 0° for 48 hours. If the freezer is half full, it will keep the temperature for 24 hours.
- Make sure all food is stored on high shelves to prevent contamination from possible flooding.
- After power is recovered, check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. It must be below 0°F and 40° or below, respectively.
- Discard food if it was above 40° for more than two hours or 90° F for more than one hour.
- Check for changes in food odor, color, and texture. When in doubt, throw it out!