Managing Food Supplies: Sanitation & Cooking Without Power
It doesn’t take a large-scale disaster to cause large portions of the population to be without power for days. In fact, last fall a surprise October snowstorm in Boston caused 43,000 homes to go dark – some for nearly a week.
Being without power for days probably means the loss of all food in cold storage. In the case of the Boston snowstorm, it may mean no access to a grocery store. Clean water may be also be limited. If you find yourself without power, here are some tips from FEMA for staying safe:
- Store food in covered containers.
- Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
- Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary.
- Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
- Use only pre-prepared canned baby formula for infants.
- Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater.
- Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.
- Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
- Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented, or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
- Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal.
- Use powdered formulas with treated water.
- Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.
- Note: Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”
- Alternative cooking sources indoors in times of emergency include candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots, or a fireplace.
- Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only.
- Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming. And Wise freeze-dried meals can be eaten without warming. Just add cold water and let the contents soak longer than normal.
- To heat food in a can:
Remove the label.
- Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can. (Use a diluted solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.)
- Open the can before heating.
- Or if you have Wise freeze-dried meals, simply open the pouch and add hot water.
Managing without Power:
- Look for alternate storage space for your perishable food.
- Eat food from your refrigerator first, then your freezer. Avoid unnecessarily opening refrigerators and freezers. Plan your access to these and try to remove everything you need for a meal in one trip.
- Use dry ice if available. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Use care when handling dry ice, and wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.