The idea of being prepared for multiple disaster scenarios is one of constant preparation. Last week I was given a report that I feel can be of importance during another major disaster or even just a possible power outage caused from various possible reasons.
If you only remember six words of this entire article you may save yourself and your family a tremendous amount of further trauma: “If in doubt, throw it out.”
Those who know me personally know how much I enjoy saving, and this includes money from grocery purchases, but the last thing anyone needs after surviving a trauma or ordinary power outage is the possibility of food poisoning from eating food that was compromised.
To be better prepared for emergencies, make sure that you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and your freezer. Your refrigerator should be set to achieve a temperature of 40 degrees F or below and your freezer should be set to 0 degrees F or lower. Freeze containers of water for ice and to help keep food cold in the freezer.
Grouping food together in the freezer will help to prolong the ability of your food to remain safe. When the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. An average refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours if it is unopened. An average full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
Once the power is restored, check the temperature on your appliance thermometer. If still in the above described safe zone, the food should be safe. Keep in mind that perishable foods such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs and seafood that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed even when they are also thoroughly cooked.
Flooding may also occur in some of our areas over time. It is best to use bottled water that has not been exposed to floodwater if available. If no bottled water is available, boiling will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. A one-minute boil followed by cooling and then storage in clean containers is standard.
But what if you are without power? If you are unable to boil water you can disinfect it by using household bleach in emergencies. Just remember bleach will kill some but not all types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. The standard method is to use 1/8 teaspoon or eight drops of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water.
Stir this amount well and please then let it stand still for at least 30 minutes before you use it. And if you have a well that may have come into contact with flooded water, it should be tested and disinfected after the waters recede and prior to use. If you are more of a visual learner, I have also included a link to a website that you may find of interest that covers some of these ideas for food safety after a power outage as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkFqAbqO38Q&feature=player_embedded
It is impossible to be “ready for everything,” but it is possible to be prepared to not only help yourself and your family, in the event of most emergencies.
I hope these items will help you, your family and our community be better prepared for the next time we have an emergency. And I hope that it also causes us all to think of how we might be better prepared to respond to help our neighbor as well.
Thanks, and know too that we all are the reason that Bradley County is truly Tennessee at its best.