Staying safe and healthy before, after natural disaster

Emergencies can happen. When they do, the best strategy is to already have a plan in place. This includes knowing the proper food and water safety precautions to take if hurricanes — or other flooding/power outages — do occur. (Most content comes from Food and Drug Administration)

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  1. Be prepared for emergencies - Keep food safe and out of possible contaminated areas

  2. - Make sure you have an appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. Your freezer should be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and your refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In case of a power outage, the thermometers will let you know if and when your food is safe to eat.
  3. - You can also freeze containers of water for ice to keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. You should also consider freezing refrigerated items, grouping food together in the freezer, having coolers on hand and freezing gel packs.

    - Check out local sources to know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased, just in case.Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding. Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding.
  4. Food safety during a power outage - Make sure everything is cooked thoroughly!

  5. If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while it is still at safe temperatures, it's important that each item is thoroughly cooked to the proper temperature to assure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present is destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40 °F for 2 hours or more — discard it. Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating. For infants, try to use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. When using concentrated or powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the local water source is potentially contaminated.
  6. How to Keep Food Safe After a Power Outage
  7. Once power is back up and running...

  8. Make sure you check your fridge thermometers to make sure everything is still cold, or at least good enough to consume. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

    Keep in mind that perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.

  9. How to Tell if Beef is Spoiled
  10. Now, what about if the house is flooded? How can you keep your water and food safe?

  11. Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.If you don't have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present.If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling.Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
  12. Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water.Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps.
    Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
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