Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in South Florida recently. As with any natural disaster, power outages are common, and food safety can come into question.
I’ve been traveling and unable to post any updates, but thought I’d post a few tips for you to keep in mind for the future, or anytime you lose power.
Keeping Food Safe
When the power is out for more than 4 hours, it’s unlikely you can salvage anything. While you know I’ve been on a mission to reduce food waste, a natural disaster is not the time to worry about it. Food waste is going to happen because without electricity or ice, you may not be able to keep all food at safe temperatures until you have power again.
- Keep refrigerator/freezer/cooler doors/lids closed.
- Keep a thermometer handy that you can use to check temps. Refrigerator should be set to 38-40F. Freezer set to 0.
- Cooking food can help preserve it a little longer. But it still will need to maintain 40 degree storage temp.
- You can’t always rely on appearance or oder in this case – if you aren’t sure the temperatures or how long food has been defrosted, you should pitch it.
Having a Plan
Going forward, be sure to consider what to keep on hand in planning for these types of situations. We now live in Florida. I often get annoyed with the big package of water in our closet. It takes up a lot of space. However when a quick storm brews, I’m happy I have water and non-perishable food on hand.
Keeping canned goods, dry milk, and water on hand can be a lifesaver when you have long-term power outages. Keeping canned beans, chili, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and soups stocked on the shelf is always a good idea. Remember that the Best-By dates on non-perishable canned or packaged food (that doesn’t require refrigeration) are only a guide for quality, not food safety.
Take a moment to count your blessings, and be grateful that you have a kitchen to clean and organize. Many do not.