Tropical storm remnants from Hurricane Irma knocked out power for thousands of people across the state. Unfortunately, hurricane season will not be over until late November. Hurricane Jose was a reminder that North Carolina could continue to be impacted by extreme weather. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published food safety tips that can help protect food during a power outage.
- The USDA suggests keeping appliance thermometers in your refrigerator or freezer during a power outage. This will allow you to ensure certain types of foods remained at safe temperatures after a power outage. For a refrigerator, safe temperatures are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Safe temperatures for a freezer are 0 degrees or below.
- You can freeze one-quart plastic bags of water and use them to protect your food. Use these frozen bags of water to surround your food in the fridge or freezer. Keep in mind that water expands when it freezes, so do not overfill the bags. Frozen foods can also be grouped together in the freezer to create the same “igloo effect.”
- Freeze refrigerated foods ahead of the power outage. This could keep them at lower temperatures for a longer amount of time.
- Dry ice can be a lifesaver for your food products during a long-lasting blackout. According to the USDA, 50 pounds of dry ice can keep food stored in an 18-cubic foot freezer safe for up to two days. Know where to get dry ice before the storm hits.
- Separate meat and poultry from other food products. These can thaw and cross contaminate other foods.
- Never open the fridge or freezer once the power goes out. Freezers can hold safe temperatures for 24 to 48 hours, depending on how full it is and other factors.
Certain foods may not be safe to eat after a power outage. Foodsafety.gov has a helpful chart that can help you decide which food items need to be tossed or refrozen. Food poisoning is not only unpleasant and painful, it can be fatal for young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, Safety Counts.