The Do 1 Thing site won the Awareness to Action category of FEMA’s 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. It’s a 12-month program of small steps that you can take to increase your personal and household preparedness. Throughout 2015, DEM will feature Do 1 Thing items during our weekly blog post series of One Thing Wednesdays. Check back here every week for a new preparedness activity or tip!
It’s April, which means the local food scene is blooming along with the flowers. The Lexington Farmers’ Market is moving back outdoors, food trucks are rolling out, and it’s warm enough for grilling. Accordingly, April’s theme is food: how to keep yourself and your household fed in an emergency.
We got through the winter without any major power outages in Lexington, but spring’s high winds are just as bad as ice storms when it comes to taking down power lines. If your power goes out, the food in your refrigerator and freezer will remain safe for only a limited time. No insulation is perfect, so temperatures inside will rise even if you keep the doors closed. This warmth allows harmful bacteria to grow.
Get appliance thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer. This will help you stay aware of those critical temperatures.
If your freezer isn’t full, keep containers of ice in it. They’ll act as heat sinks, slowing any thawing.
Know where you can get dry ice or blocks of ice. In an extended power outage, you’ll need these to keep your food cold.
In a power outage, the number to remember is 4. Your food is safe as long as it remains at or below 40° Fahrenheit. If your power goes out, your refrigerator will keep your food cold for 4 hours if you keep the door closed. A full freezer will maintain safe temperatures for 48 hours (half that if half-full).
Minimize the number of times you open the refrigerator or freezer during a power outage.
In an extended outage, get extra ice or dry ice. Remember that if the outage is widespread, supplies may be limited.
When the power comes back on, check the interior temperatures of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (e.g., meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, leftovers) that has been above 40°F for more than two hours. If you don’t know the interior temperature and the refrigerator was off for more than 4 hours, play it safe and throw out everything.
Evaluate each item separately. If it’s smelly, discolored, or warm, or if it has an unusual texture, get rid of it. Don’t determine food quality by taste! When in doubt, throw it out!
You can safely re-freeze any partially-thawed food from your freezer if it still contains ice crystals or is at or below 40°F.