FDA encourages consumers to:
• Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
• Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth and similar containers that have been water-damaged.
• Discard food and beverage containers with screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops and home canned foods, if they have come in contact with flood water. These containers cannot be disinfected.
• Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 °F and the refrigerator is at or below 40 °F.
• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
• Area health departments will determine whether local tap water can be used for drinking. If the water cannot be used or is questionable, and bottled water is not available, then use the directions in the next bullet to purify it.
• Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool and store it in clean containers with covers.
- Use an appliance thermometer in the fridge and freezer to help determine if food is safe for consumption in the event of a power outage.
- The temperature for the fridge should be at 40 degrees or lower and the freezer at 0 degrees or lower.
- Grouping together your food in the freezer will help the food stay colder longer.
- Consider freezing leftover items that you won’t need immediately, such as deli meats and milk. This will help keep these items at a safer temperature longer.
- Have ice in the freezer in case the power goes out. A cooler with ice will allow you to prolong the life of your food. If you don’t have a cooler, you can also use the ice to keep the refrigerator cool.
- Fill containers with water and store in the freezer. Not only can this help keep the freezer cooler longer, but it can also serve as a back-up water supply.
- For pantry items, store all food on higher shelves in case of flooding.
- As the storm approaches, turn down the temperature of the fridge and freezer to the max to make it as cold as possible. Don’t forget to turn it back once the threat passes.
- If the power goes out, open the fridge and freezer as little as possible. Opening the doors allows the cool air to escape. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed. A full freezer will keep cool for 48 hours and a half full freezer will keep cool for 24 hours.
Precautions in the event of a power outage:
- Check the temperature of both the fridge and freezer.
- If you don’t have a way to read the temperature in the freezer, check each package. If the food contains water crystals, then it may still be safe.
- Discard all perishable foods that have been kept in a fridge or freezer above 40 degrees for more than two hours, bacteria can multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 degrees.
- Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there’s a chance it came in contact with flood waters. Also discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers if they may have been in contact with flood waters.
- Wash all metal pans, ceramic plates and utensils that may have come into contact with flood waters with hot soapy water. Sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
- Use only bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If you don’t have bottle water, you can boil tap water for safe use.
- Never, ever, taste food to determine its safety.
Information via Huffingtonpost