When a hurricane strikes, the safety of our food supply may be in jeopardy.
The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses every year, but what are the chances of exposure during a major storm?
Hurricanes bring severe wind and heavy rain, often resulting in power outages and flooding, which can lead to contamination and spoiled food within hours, even minutes.
What are the best ways to ensure the food you’re eating is safe? Take a look at these hurricane food safety do’s and don’ts.
- Clean utensils before and after use.
- Keep any trashcan lids closed.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Use ready-made formula for infants.
- Eat foods from cans that are swollen, busted or have rust.
- Eat anything that looks or smells questionable.
- Eat food that comes into contact with floodwater.
- For foods that must be refrigerated, don’t eat them if they’ve sat at room temperature for two hours or longer.
- Let trash pile up.
Power And Your Refrigerator
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible during and after a major storm event. If the refrigerator door stays closed, the food inside will stay at a proper temperature for up to four hours following a power outage.
Food in the freezer can last longer than food in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to check if frozen food is ≤40 degrees; this means it is safe to cook or refreeze once the power turns on again.
If you anticipate losing power for more than four hours, consider buying a 25-pound bag of dry ice. Dry ice helps keep items in your freezer cold for up to 3-4 days. Also, consider freezing gallons of water into block ice; it will last longer than cubed ice.