Winter in the United States can mean heavy snow and blizzards, freezing rain, ice storms and bitterly cold temperatures and wind chill in several areas of the country including New Mexico and the states in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions. Severe winter weather can often result in power outages that can threaten frozen and refrigerated food and potentially cause food borne illnesses as these foods warm.
There are some basic steps and preparations to take to prepare for potential power outages and to ensure that you have access to safe food and water. One of those steps is maintaining an emergency food supply that includes shelf stable food that can be preserved without refrigeration or freezing. Dried fruit, dried vegetables and beef jerky are all types of food that is shelf stable and able to be kept in storage for long periods of time. Dried fruit, vegetables and beef jerky are all easily made with a food dehydrator. Use a food dehydrator to remove moisture from food which will inhibit the ability of microorganisms to grow and spoil it.
In addition to keeping emergency food supplies of dried food and bottled water, the following preparations should be taken in case you are faced with unplanned winter storm power outages.
- Do not open and close the refrigerator and freezer doors very often. Keep these doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperatures inside the units.
- On average, a refrigerator and freezer will keep food at safe temperatures for about 4 hours and 48 hours, assuming they are not constantly opened and closed.
- After 4 hours, throw away any refrigerated perishable food like meat, poultry, fish, cheeses, milk and eggs.
- Do not try tasting or eating a small amount of food to see if it is safe to eat.
- Use dry ice or, if available, buy ice to help keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible.
- Most importantly, when in doubt, throw the food out.
Published 1/15/2010 12:00:00 AM