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Hurricane Guide

Keep Your Food And Water Safe

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2013 at 03:02 PM

There's so much out of your control in a hurricane's aftermath. One thing you can control: how you'll feed yourself and quench your thirst when the power goes out.

First, you should stock up on food and water before a storm. Then there are issues of refrigeration, cleanliness and cooking.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Food And Accessories

•Shelf-stable foods such as canned goods can be eaten cold or heated on the grill.

•A digital thermometer is a necessity in your kitchen. With thermometers, you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food for doneness and safety.

•Discard food that may have come into contact with contaminated floodwater.

•Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels, wash the cans, then disinfect them with a solution of one cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water.

•Food containers with screw caps, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, snap tops and home-canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater.

•For infants, use only canned baby formula.

•Buy paper plates, cups and plastic utensils. Antibacterial hand sanitizer will be helpful.

•A gas grill can be your most versatile tool. Not only can you use it to prepare food, but you can also use it to boil water.

Water Safety

•Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice.

•Drink only bottled, boiled or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.

•Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bring water to a boil for one minute.

•Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets or by mixing six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly, and let stand for about 30 minutes. This treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.

Frozen And Refrigerated Foods

•An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold enough for at least a couple of hours. A freezer that is half-full will hold for up to 24 hours, and a full freezer for 48 hours.

•Have enough coolers to store the food you want to save.

•If you think you will be without power for a long period, ask friends with electricity to store your frozen foods.

•Use dry ice, if available. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for up to four days. Wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury from dry ice.

•Discard food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.

•If a power outage is two hours or less, you need not be concerned.

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