Even though hurricane season officially began on June 1, we’re approaching the season’s peak, which typically runs from now until late October.
Statistics show that Sept. 10 is the most likely day to find something stirring in the Atlantic.
So if a storm came through and your power went out, would you know what to do with your food?
Also, what food would you eat to keep you and your family satisfied until the power comes back on?
Some ways to prepare before a storm hits:
- Be sure to have appliance thermometers for both the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be kept at 40 degrees F or below, and the freezer should be Zero degrees F or lower.
- Freeze containers of water: Those will function as extra ice packs to put in your cooler, refrigerator and freezer. Plus, when they melt, they’ll provide additional drinking water.
- Freeze refrigerated items that you won’t need right away, such as meat or milk. That will preserve them, and a fuller freezer stays frozen longer.
- Be sure to have coolers on hand.
- Have a thermometer for the cooler, too. Make sure the food isn’t in the danger zone, which is between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F.
- Stock up on ice cubes, or buy extra ice and freeze gel packs. Dry or block ice is good, too, because it lasts longer. You can store these in the refrigerator and coolers after the storm.
- Store nonperishable food and water bottles on a shelf — not the floor, to prevent contamination, in the event of a flood.
If the power goes out:
- Keep the doors shut to the refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. If it is shut, the refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours, and the freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours if it’s fully stocked, or for 24 hours if it’s half-stocked.
- Keep a list of items inside your refrigerator and freezer, to reduce the number of times you open and close them.
- Start with eating perishable foods in the refrigerator, within four hours. Then eat the foods in the freezer, within 24 to 48 hours (depending how full your freezer was).
When the power returns:
- Check the freezer thermometer. If it is under 40 degrees F, the food is safe and may be refrozen. (Don’t forget: If the power outage lasts longer than 48 hours, you are likely to see your freezer temperature in the temperature danger zone, which is above 40 degrees F).
- Check the refrigerator thermometer. If it is over 40 degrees F, the perishable food should be discarded (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and sliced produce, etc.)
There are some refrigerated foods that are generally safe above 40 degrees F. Those are: Peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, mustard, bread, rolls, muffins, tortillas, hard cheese, butter/margarine, barbecue sauce, opened vinegar-based dressings, uncut produce, waffles and bagels.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is this: When in doubt, throw it out. It’s not worth getting sick.
Also, keep in mind that your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover the loss of your refrigerated foods and frozen groceries.
Also, be sure to stock up on foods to help you get through until the power is restored.
Try to stay away from highly processed foods and keep nutrition in mind.
Here are some possible options: Whole and dried fruits, whole grain products (whole grain bread, crackers, tortilla shells, dry cereal low in sugar), trail mix, peanut butter, unsalted nuts, canned goods such as low-sodium beans, lentils, soups, vegetables and tuna, and canned fruit (look for canned in juice, not syrup).
While protein bars and granola bars are filling, remember, they may be high in sugar.
Be sure to plan enough food for at least three days for each person.
Drinking water should be stocked up, too, so each individual in your home has one gallon of water per day for at least three days (though up to two weeks’ worth is ideal).
You’ll also want one gallon per day for each person for hygienic purposes, including handwashing, brushing teeth and other uses.
Plus, be sure you have a manual can opener, napkins, and plastic/paper plates, cups, utensils and bowls.
Oh, and don’t forget your furry family members.
Make sure they have food and water, too.
Plan to have three days’ worth of food for your pet and one-half gallon to one gallon of water per pet, per day.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science Agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County.
Published September 04, 2019
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