Weekly challenge: educate yourself on food safety during a power outage
With all the fierce storms and power outages this summer, what better time to educate yourself on food safety tips? Print out these tips and paste them to your refrigerator to have on hand, if and when you do lose power.
Here’s what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:
If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer. If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below: For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it. For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, it can be tough to find ice at the local supermarket when everyone’s out of power (speaking from personal experience), so you may better off calling on a neighbor with a generator who’s willing to lend you some refrigerator and freezer space.
You should also make sure that your drinking water is safe to drink during an outage since water purification systems may not be functioning fully. If your water is contaminated, you shouldn’t use it to brush your teeth, wash your tissues, make ice, or make baby formula. If you don’t have access to safe bottled water, you can purify tap water by boiling it for a least a minute, which will kill most organisms, according to the CDC.
Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.