Hurricane Sandy is poised to strike the Northeast United States, starting early next week. Start getting ready to protect yourself from this storm. Loss of power can jeopardize the safety of your food. Stock up on canned and shelf stable foods so you have something to eat if the power goes out or you are stranded. Make sure you have enough potable water for each member of the family: at least one gallon of water per person per day. Put thermometers in your fridge and freezer.
The USDA has compiled a sheet to help you stay food safe in the storm. Print out their fact sheet “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” and keep it in a safe place so you can refer to it as needed.
If you do lose power, keep the fridge closed; it will keep food at safe temperatures for four hours. A full freezer will keep food frozen safely for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full). If you have room in your freezer, store ice in it to bring it up to capacity. You can also thaw the ice to use as drinking water.
After the storm, food safety rules are more important than ever. It’s important that you never taste food to determine if it’s safe. Pathogenic bacteria do not make food taste, look, or smell different or off. Never eat any food that has come into contact with flood water, which can be full of pathogens.
Check freezer and refrigerator temperatures using the thermometers you installed before the storm. If frozen food still has ice crystals, it is safe and can be refrozen. Any perishable foods which have been above 40 degrees F for more than two hours should be discarded. Sanitize anything that has come into contact with flood water by immersing them in a bleach solution or boiling them.