July 25, 2024

Food and Water Safety After a Flood From the CDC

If you have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, or if you are in the path of Hurricane Irma, the CDC has some information you should know about food safety after a disaster or flood. First of all, always throw away any food that may have come into contact with flood or storm water. Also discard perishable foods, and those with an unusual color, odor, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.

Don’t use your fireplace for cooking until the chimney has been inspected for cracks. Sparks can escape into your attic through a spark and start a fire.

Remember that perishable foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and leftovers, must be discarded when the power has been off for four hours or more, even if they are refrigerated. Any food that still contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked.

Freezers, if left full and unopened, will keep food safe for 48 hours. If the freezer is only half full, the food will be safe for 24 hours.

You may think that containers with screw tops, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, and snap-open lids are waterproof, but they aren’t. Dangerous, contaminated flood water can get into those containers and make you sick. Only commercially canned foods are safe after floods.

But you have to treat those cans before they are safe to open. Remove the labels, since they can harbor bacteria. Dip the cans in a solution of 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach to 5 gallons of water. Then re-label the cans with a waterproof marker. Be sure to include the expiration date.

If you have infants, breastfeed them if possible. If not, use ready-tofeed formula. Powdered formula must be rehydrated with water, but only use bottled water that has not been in contact with flood water. If that isn’t available bye, use boiled water. Treated water can be used for baby formula only if you don’t have bottled or boiled water. Clean bottles and nipples with bottled, boiled, or treated water before each use.

Your kitchen will need to be sanitized. All wooden cutting. boards, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers should be discarded, since they can’t be properly sanitized.

Use a four-step process to sanitize food-contact surfaces. First, wash with soap and warm, clean water. then rinse with clear water. Sanitize by immersing for 1 minute in a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of clean water. Finally, let the surfaces and utensils air fry.


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