In the case of weather-related or other emergencies, you need to be prepared so your food supply is clean and safe. Here's what to do if your electricity goes out:
- Leave the freezer door shut. Your food will remain safe for up to 48 hours. The more frozen food in your freezer, the longer it will last.
- Keep your refrigerator door shut too. Food in the fridge will be safe for at least two hours if you don't open and close the doors. After that it will have to be moved to a cooler with ice.
- Store coolers where you can easily find them. Make sure you have two or three so you have plenty of room for food and ice.
- Stash bags of ice cubes in your freezer. If the electricity is out for more than three or four hours, transfer your refrigerated food into the coolers and pack them with lots of ice.
- Keep different size plastic containers with tight-fitting lids on hand. You don't want to put your uncooked meats next to your cooked foods or raw produce in the coolers. Keep them separated with individual containers.
- Keep an emergency food pantry supplied with cans, packages and boxes of nonperishable foods during hurricane, tornado, or blizzard seasons.
You can live a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water. You want your water to be clean, safe and free from germs and parasites. Hee's how to keep drinking water safe during an emergency:
- Keep several clean bottles filled with water and sealed tightly or stock up on bottled water from the grocery store.
- If you are unsure if your water source is safe, the American Red Cross suggests treating the water with chlorine.
- Consider purchasing a water purifier made for hikers and campers. Make sure you buy a water purifier (buy direct) and not just a water filter.
Learn More About Food Safety
- One way to kill bugs and bacteria is with radiation. Learn more: What Is Food Irradiation?
- If your power's off for a while, what happens when your food gets too warm or too cold? Find out: Food Temperature Danger Zone.
- Do you worry about food safety even when there are no emergencies? You're not alone: Food Safety Fears.
American Red Cross. "Food Safety." Accessed April 19, 2011. http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_564_,00.html.
United States Department of Agriculture. "Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency." Emergency Preparedness. Updated September 2006.