With hurricane conditions possible along the south Texas coast in roughly 36 hours, a lot of people may find themselves without electrical power for hours or possibly even days.
And when that happens some of the food that people have in their homes can go bad quickly. Particularly during the heat of summer.
The USDA maintains a Food Safety and Inspection website with a great deal of consumer information about how to protect your food supplies during an emergency, and how to tell when to discard food that may no longer be safe to consume.
First, an audio podcast (5 minutes).
Surviving a Power Outage: Don't Be in the Dark When it Comes to Food Safety (Jun 2, 2010; 4:45) | Script
FSIS Food Safety staff discusses tips on how to be food safe during a power outage.
Next, an extensive fact sheet on food safety during an emergency, such as a hurricane, flood, or earthquake.
Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food? Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. This fact sheet will help you make the right decisions for keeping your family safe during an emergency.
ABCD’s of Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency
Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 °F and frozen food at or below 0 °F. This may be difficult when the power is out.
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
You’ll also find numerous charts (like the one below) showing different food items, and how to know when they must be discarded.
It doesn’t require a major disaster like a Hurricane to knock out the power to your home for 24 hours or longer. A strong thunderstorm is perfectly capable of taking down power lines.
So whether you are in the path of a storm or not, it’s not such a bad idea to visit this site and glean what you can while the power is still on.