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Friday, June 7, 2013

Hurricane Season Tips

Hurricane season has started!  Now is a great time for a reminder of what to do in a tropical storm/hurricane.  These can be especially hard on those with Celiac's; the reason for this is that much of our food is frozen. A lot of the canned food contains gluten and would be unsafe to eat.  However, canned meats and vegetables are often safe.  Try to invest in some of those instead of canned soups or meals.

Picture by NASA/MODIS
Basic gluten free bread products should be fine for a few days outside of the freezer, but they will have to be eaten before that.  Some brands are shelf stable if they are not opened.  If you are worried about the storm these are the products to get:

Goodbye gluten products are listed as shelf stable.
Schar brands are shelf stable prior to being opened.
Some of the Udi's brand breads are shelf stable for a few days.

These do not need to be refrigerated or frozen and would be good outside of a freezer.  Other bread items should last for a few days.  Remember, if you buy it on the shelf then it should last a few days without being frozen. 

Other items even all the shelf stable items should be treated as any other perishable.

Below is a guide of how to save food for as long as possible.

Also be sure to have drinking water on hand should it become necessary.  And most importantly, be safe and smart.

What do I do after an outage?
Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours at least. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours. If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.

What do I need?

One or more coolers; inexpensive styrofoam coolers can do an excellent job as well. Get some shelf-stable foods, such as canned goods and powdered or boxed milk, and a digital quick-response thermometer. With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food for safety.

What should be discarded after a power outage?
As soon as the power returns, check temperatures. If the food in the freezer has ice crystals and is not above 40 degrees you can refreeze. Perishable foods in the refrigerator should not be above 40 degrees F for more than two hours.

What if I go to bed and the power is still off?
Before you go to bed, pack your perishables into your coolers if you haven't already done so, and put in as much ice as you can. Also, when you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on. When the power goes back on, it will wake you, so you can check the condition of your foods in the freezer.

What if the power goes out while I’m at work or out of the house and it has been more than a few hours before I get home?
Try to determine how long the power has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with your quick-response thermometer. A liquid such as milk or juice is easy to check. Spot check other items like steaks or leftovers also. If the internal temperature is above 40 degrees, it is best to throw it out.

What if the power goes out and comes back on while I am out?
If your freezer is fairly full and you know it was not longer than 24 hours, the food should be OK. There will be loss of quality with refreezing, but the food will be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 2-4 hours, it is best to discard the perishables.

Also as a basic refresher, provided by the Washington Post at Washington Post Link :

Family emergency plan. If you live in an older home, make arrangements to stay with friends or family members who have a sturdier shelter. If you live or work in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor. Elderly or disabled people may need extra assistance. Remember that many shelters do not accept pets. Be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
Emergency contacts Make a list of emergency phone numbers and contact information. Put paper lists in a plastic bag.
Water. Keep at least one gallon per person per day and prepare a three-day supply.
Food and other provisions. Prepare a three-day supply of non-perishable (canned or dried) food per person. Include baby supplies and pet supplies as needed.
Flashlights and extra batteries.
A first-aid kit and a seven-day supply of medications and medical items such as glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane, etc.
Personal documents. Medication list and medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies and contact information for your home insurance agent. Keep these in a plastic bag.
Extra cash. ATMs and credit card machines may not work in the event of a power outage.
Charge your cellphone. Keep chargers and an extra battery on hand.
Fill your car’s gas tank and set aside an extra set of car and house keys.
Secure your property. Bring inside bikes, lawn furniture and anything that can be picked up by the wind.
Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters if you have them.
Smoke detectors. Make sure they have fresh batteries and are operating properly.
Generators. If you have one, review the instructions and ensure you have the right fuel and equipment.
What to do during the storm:
Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to preserve food.
Turn off or unplug propane tanks, electronic equipment and appliances.
Stay indoors. Drive only if necessary.
During power outages, don’t use candles — they can be a fire hazard.
Don’t use gas cooking ranges for heating your home because of carbon monoxide hazards.
If you go outside during the storm, stay away from loose or dangling power lines. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
Wear protective clothing and closed-toed shoes.
Use your cellphone for emergency calls only, to conserve battery life.
Don’t bring generators indoors. 

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