Safety is a big issue whenever people lose power. Sometimes the danger doesn’t end when electricity is restored…..
While it is probably one of the last things people think about, carbon monoxide poisoning is a major storm danger. In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning killed ten people after Hurricane Katrina and thirteen people after Hurricane Ike in 2008. People can get in trouble with portable generators, gas stoves and grills, which emit a lot of carbon monoxide. As for a generator, make sure you place it as far from the house as possible, away from windows and out of the rain. Do not keep it inside or in a garage. You also want to make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is working properly in the home.
The US Department of Agriculture advises that your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees or below, and your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below. If your appliance doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, buy one and keep it inside at all times.
Assure that your refrigerator and freezer doors remain shut if you lose power to keep things cold for as long as possible. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for 4 hours if unopened. A full freezer will hold its temperature for 48 hours, while a half full freezer is good for 24 hours. If the power has been out for several days, check your freezer’s temperature. If the temperature is below 40 degrees or the food still has ice crystals, it should be fine.
If you are without power for more than four hours, throw out perishable foods from your fridge like meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items. Some foods are safe, even if they’ve been over 40 degrees for more than two hours. These include margarine, peanut butter, jelly, fresh fruit, fruit juice, raw vegetables and condiments like mustard and ketchup. Get rid of mayonnaise if it’s over 50 degrees for more than 8 hours.
If you hear a storm is coming, freeze containers of water to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out. You can also freeze items you normally keep in the refrigerator like milk, meat, and poultry. Also, group foods together in the freezer to help keep them cold longer.
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