Food Safety During Severe Weather
You know that you need a stockpile of food for emergency situations. You have your pantry outfitted to feed your family for a week or more in the event that you are faced with catastrophe. Unfortunately, if that food is not stored properly, your time and money could have been wasted. It is not only important that you have an emergency supply of food and sundries, but that you understand how to store them properly no matter the situation you are faced with.
Imminent Power Outages
You do not have a crystal ball, but you know that there is a strong possibility that you will lose power during a severe weather outbreak. Before the power goes out, there are steps you need to take.
- Place appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. These tools will tell you if the temperature inside of your appliances is safe for food storage. The maximum temperature in the refrigerator is 40-degrees Fahrenheit, and the maximum temperature in the freezer is 0-degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures climb higher in either appliance, it is no longer safe to store your food inside of them.
Freeze water in empty soda or water bottles. You can put these frozen bottles in your refrigerator and freezer to help keep them cold longer.
Place refrigerated food in coolers if you believe the power will be out for longer than four hours.
Keep non-perishable foods in the cupboard that do not require cooking. Granola bars, energy bars and canned vegetables can be eaten in a pinch if the power does not return.
When the Power Goes Out
Do not give in to the temptation to constantly check the refrigerator and freezer. The more often you open the doors, the faster the cool air leaks out.
If you have access to dry ice, buy some and put it in the refrigerator.
Place meat on one side of the freezer and other frozen foods on the other. Place a cookie tray under the meat. This will keep the juice from the thawing meat from contaminating your other foods.
If you work in a restaurant or bar, contact your safety consultant if the power is expected to stay off for more than a few hours. He or she can advise you as to how to protect the kitchen’s stock.
After a Flood
If you experience a flood, there are special steps and precautions you need to take when it comes to your food.
- Throw away any fresh food that came into contact with flood waters to avoid contamination.
Closely inspect canned foods and look for signs of damage. Any cans that are dented, swellings, punctured, or crushed should be thrown away.
Food in containers is not always safe. If a container is plastic, has a screw- or snap-on lid, or is wrapped in cardboard, discard it. These foods are no longer considered to be safe for consumption.
Properly Storing Food
Now that you know what to do in the event of an emergency, you should understand how to keep yourself from having to throw so much away. Properly stocking your pantry is a great first step.
All dried foods should be kept in specialized food-storage containers. Keep these containers at least one foot off of the floor. The higher you can store the containers, the less likely they are to come in contact with flood waters.
When you are stocking your pantry, look for foods that do not have to be cooked. If you choose to purchase canned foods, do not forget to buy a manual can opener. Your electric opener will do you no good in a power outage.
Keeping your food safe during severe weather is not complicated. Once you understand what to do with your food when harsh weather hits, you do not throw as much away. Use these tips to keep your food safe in the event of a power outage or weather emergency.