Hurricane food, water, appliance safety tips
n A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours, 24 if half-full, if the door remains closed. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours. Dry or block ice will keep the refrigerator cold in case of a prolonged power outage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 50 lbs. of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days.
- Food in the freezer will be safe to eat should an appliance thermometer reads 40 degrees or below, the USDA says. If you don’t have a thermometer, check each package of food for ice crystals, which means it’s safe to refreeze. Discard any perishable food that’s been kept above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours.
- Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water, the Food and Drug Administration says. Discard food and beverage containers in water-damaged packaging or that have screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps flip tops and any home-canned foods.
- If you live in a location that could be flooded, store your supplies on shelves that will be out of the way of contaminated water.
- Undamaged all-metal cans and flexible, shelf-stable pouches can be saved, the USDA says. Remove all labels, then thoroughly wash the cans or pouches in soap and water. Brush or wipe away dirt or silt. Rinse cans or pouches with potable water, then sanitize them by immersing them in boiling water for 2 minutes or in a solution made of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. Air-dry the cans or pouches for at least an hour, then re-label each item, including the expiration date.
- If bottled water is unavailable and boiling water is not possible, the FDA says, water can be made potable by adding 1⁄8 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Stir well and let stand for 30 minutes before using. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, then draw off clear water before adding bleach.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved sources for emergency drinking water inside the home include: water from your home’s water heater tank and melted ice cubes. Water from swimming pools and spas may be used for personal hygiene and cleaning, but not for drinking.
Infants and young children:
n It’s always best to use ready-to-feed formula, according to the CDC. Should ready-to-feed formula not be available, use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If you have no bottled water, use boiled water or treated water.
n The CDC recommends this four-step process: Wash surfaces with soap and warm, clear water. Rinse with clean water. Sanitize by immersing for 1 minute in a solution of 1 tsp. chlorine bleach (5.25%, unscented) per gallon of clean water. Allow to air dry.
- The FDA recommends wooden cutting boards, wooden dishes, wooden utensils, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers that come into contact with flood water be discarded.
- The USDA says to clean counter tops thoroughly with soap and water, then rinse and sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. Allow to air-dry.
- Run the dishwasher, empty, through three complete cycles to flush the water lines and assure they are cleaned before returning to normal use, the FDA says. Also discard all the ice in ice machines, sanitize the interior surfaces with 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water. Then run the ice machine through three cycles, discarding the ice.
Sources: The United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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