Keeping Food Safe After A Hurricane


Keeping Food Safe After A Hurricane

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, September 19, 2019

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The hurricane season is upon us and with it the possibility of losing electricity, flooding and lack of access to clean potable water. While your freezer may be able to hold up for a day, unless you have alternative methods in place to keep your cold foods cold, you will have to discard everything once spoilage occurs.

Here are a few ways you can maintain food safety during and after a hurricane.

Water safety

One of the biggest issues during and especially after a hurricane is access to potable water. While many of us are able to purchase bottled water to stock up, there are individuals who depend on the municipal supply or nearby spring sources. If you currently use the aforementioned, ensure you keep clean containers on hand for water storage — do not use empty pesticide or chemical containers. Remember, if you are going to use the municipal water supply after a hurricane ensure you boil, as this will kill most disease-causing organisms that could be present. After cooling, use 8 drops of bleach per gallon for clear water and 16 drops per gallon for cloudy water.

Quick tip: Discard any food — packaged or not — that may have come in contact with flood waters.

Keeping cold

Depending on how long the power may be out, there is a possibility that you will have to throw your perishable food out after a few days. However, you can turn the freezer section of your refrigerator into a cooler by freezing large quantities of water and placing inside your freezer. You also have the option of stocking up on ice and ensuring that you have heavy-duty coolers or insulated containers on hand. Additionally, you can keep a thermometer to ensure that foods are being held at safe temperatures. Do not open refrigerators or coolers frequently as this will reduce their efficacy.

Quick tip: To prevent cross-contamination, never store anything but meat in a meat cooler.

Keep stock of non-perishable foods

Once a hurricane warning comes out, try to use up all your perishable foods and stock up on non-perishables such as canned foods, bread, jelly, jams, crackers, dried fruits, etc. You can also freeze items such as juices and milk once you have word of a hurricane warning.

Quick tip: When in doubt throw it out! When the power returns ensure you check the temperature inside your refrigerator and discard any perishables that may seem off.

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