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Sandy Storm: Power Out and Flood Waters, How to Stay Food Safe


Sitting here 6,000 kilometers away from the Jersey Shore watching CNN and the horrible news about Storm Sandy. My hometown, Toms River, New Jersey was hit particularly badly with unprecedented flooding and many rescues during the night. Seaside, the coastal town we used to frequent for its super fun boardwalk, is also destroyed. And this is only a piece of sand for so many other places.

Millions without power, homes flooded, trees down. My family is all there in Jersey and in Pennsylvania and so many close friends are there too.

So difficult to be far away and feel helpless.

My mom is one of hundreds of thousands who will now face another aftermath of this brutal storm. A freezer and refrigerator filled with food. Food that is thawing fast and a refrigerator that is no longer keeping food cold.

How to help from so far away? Voila-my small contribution. An article about how to stay food safe and stay far away from food borne illness.

Here are my top “don’t mess around with food” tips:

  • When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe .
  • The elderly, children and immune suppressed people are most at risk for food borne illness. With these populations, we must be extra careful.
  • Keep door closed to refrigerator and freezer as much as possible to keep the cold in.
  • If food has been warm (above 40 degrees F) for more than 2 hours, throw it away. If unsure of the temperature throw it away. If you have a digital thermometer, use it to check the temperature.
  • If freezer has space, transfer as much food as possible to freezer.
  • Rearrange freezer to keep frozen packages together. Use crumbled newspaper to fill spaces. Close together frozen food stays cold longer.
  • Cover your free-standing freezer with blankets.
  • Rearrange meats so their juices do not drip onto other foods as the meats begin to thaw.
  • Throw away any ready-to-eat item that comes in contact with meat juices.
  • When temperature of refrigerator reaches 40 degrees F, place block ice in a container in refrigerator to keep fridge cold as long as possible.
  • Keep perishable items in a cooler with ice packs around them.

When in doubt, throw it out.

Special Precautions With Flood Water (taken from source below: Severe Storms and Hurricane Guidelines)

  • Do not eat any food that may have come in contact with flood water.
  • Discard any food that may have come in contact with flood water unless a container is waterproof. “Food containers that are not waterproof include: screw caps, snap lids, pull tops, cramped caps. Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned.”
  • Discard any food in damaged cans. (swelling , leakage, punctures, holes )
  • Must wash pots, pans, dishes, utensils that have been in contact with flood water. “Use soap and water using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immerse them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tbsp. of unscented liquid choline bleach per gallon of drinking water.”

Important and useful links about this food safety during a power outage and major storm:


Thrifty Living and Power Out

Severe Storms and Hurricane Guidelines

Keeping Food Safe When Power Goes Out

Power Outages Tips FDA

These links also have lists of specific foods and how long they can last without refrigeration.

Be safe, physically and mentally. Be food safe too. The best advice: if in doubt, throw it out.

Stay safe my friends.


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4 Responses to Sandy Storm: Power Out and Flood Waters, How to Stay Food Safe

  1. Rie Fortin November 4, 2012 at 16:47 #

    Excellent and informative article. Thinking of you; it must be so difficult to be far away from friends and family affected by Hurricane Sandy. At the very least your article is very helpful; I never knew about stuffing the freezer with newspapers and bundling the frozen foods. Thanks!


  1. Suzanne Saxe-R, Ed.D - November 2, 2012

    RT @mbrighton66 Sandy Storm: Power Out and Flood Waters, How to Stay Food Safe: Hurricane Sandy has left million…

  2. Mary Brighton - October 31, 2012

    Apologies for being a bit absent. This devastating storm hitting the East Coast (particularly my hometown of Toms…

  3. Suzanne Saxe-R, Ed.D - October 31, 2012

    RT @mbrighton66 Sandy Storm: Power Out and Flood Waters, How to Stay Food Safe: Hurricane Sandy has left million…

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