When Disaster Strikes
The Northeasterners are suffering
After years of living on the East Coast, you tend to learn several tips to help preserve food and stay warm or cool after the storm. Our home was flooded more times than I can count; that is what you get when you live in a flood plain and close to the Atlantic Ocean. It seems every home has a generator to keep the water pumps pumping the water out of your basement on a regular basis. When Hurricane Sandy hit, my heart went out to each family who was struggling to just get through the day without warm clothes, food and electricity. And especially to those families who lost loved ones. And now a Nor’easter is set to strike on top of all the devastation. Our hearts, prayers and help go out to each person. If you would like to help, you can send a donation to www.redcross.org/Hurricane_Aid.
How to save your Refrigerated and Frozen Food for as long as possible
When the power goes out, what do you do with all your perishable food? The US Department of Agriculture recommends keeping meat, poultry, fish and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 degrees and frozen food at or below 0 degrees. With no power to run the refrigerator this can be a difficult thing to do.
Here are some tips to keeping your food as long as possible:
For the victims of Sandy, the outside temperature is cold enough for most things to be put outside or in a garage; that is if you still have a home and a garage.
Pack your freezer with as much stuff as you can, it doesn’t even have to be food. The fuller your freezer the longer your food will stay frozen and then “Keep the Door Shut”. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about two days if the door is kept closed.
For refrigerator foods, the “keeping the door shut” rule is most important. And if possible, purchase about 50 pounds of dry ice which will keep your refrigerator and freezer cold for about 2 days.
For the victims of Sandy, most of this information doesn’t matter as many are still out of power many days after the fact. In such cases, if you can find a barbeque, invite over neighbors in the same shape and cook all the meat and vegetables and have a feast. Left overs can be stored in the garage as long as the temperatures stay below 40 degrees. Each neighbor could do the same thing and feed the neighborhood for a few days.
Keep an eye on the temperature when storing food in the garage, outside or even in the refrigerator. Food stored at temperatures above 40 degrees gives bacteria a chance to grow quickly. In such a case, it is time to toss it. Also, if your food has come in contact with any flood water, unless sealed in a waterproof container, throw it out. Remember the old adage, “when in doubt, throw it out”. If it is canned or in a sealed pouch you are fine as long as it is not damaged. And don’t do a taste test to see if perishables are still fresh; you don’t want to add food poisoning to your list of sufferings. A good rule of thumb is to throw out any left overs. And keep opened jars of catsup, opened juices, raw vegetables, breads, peanut butter and jelly, as long as they haven’t been touched by flood waters.
It is always good to have an extra store of the foods your family will eat, sealed in airtight buckets or bags and don’t forget the diapers and baby food, as well as medicines. You will need to switch out these items and keep them rotated before they expire or the baby grows into larger diapers. It would also be a good idea to have a warm set of close for each member of the family in a sealed container that could be easily grabbed if you need to evacuate. These also will have to be changed every six months to a year as children grow. Being as prepared as possible can really help out in a disaster. But, sometimes in just minutes you are left with nothing.