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Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Ensuring A Safe Food Supply

Updated on February 26, 2009

Your food supply is of primary importance to your survival and it should be a prime priority to ensure that the food you consume is safe and nutritious. Your food supply can very easily become contaminated due to a combination of factors, including flood, wind exposure, or fire. It can also spoil extraordinarily quickly if the temperature of any refrigerated or frozen food rises due to a power outage.

If there is any warning whatsoever that your electrical supply may become compromised, take these steps:

  • Set your freezer and refrigerator to the absolute coldest setting, as this will help the food stay colder longer.
  • Open your freezer or refrigerator the absolute minimum possible. You really should only open it once per meal, quickly grab what you need and close that door!
  • Have a couple of big blocks of dry ice wrapped in brown paper in your freezer. They can keep a full sized freezer safely cold for up to three days. Make sure that you separate it from directly contact with your food supply by using a cardboard divider. Fill up the empty air spaces in your freezer with crumpled papers which will reduce the air currents and keep your dry ice lasting much longer.
  • Set meats and poultry in one section, preferably in a tub or tray which keeps them separate from the other foods. The juices from thawing meats can lethally contaminate the rest of your foods.

If any of these refrigerated food have been at room temperature for more than two hours, it's time to throw them away:

  • Any meat, poultry or seafood, whether cooked or raw
  • Milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, creams and other easily perishable dairy products
  • Pasta salads and any other cooked pastas or grain products
  • Cheese, cream, custard, or chiffon pies and tarts
  • Eggs or anything containing fresh egg products
  • Any product which contains meats or cold cuts, such as pizzas, subs, etc.
  • Stews, soups or casseroles
  • Mayonnaises and other dairy or egg based sauces
  • Doughs of any kind, including bread and cookie
  • Pastries that are filled with cream or other dairy ingredients

In case of emergency, the following foods should be able to be safe at room temperature for up to two days. Of course, before consuming anything, carefully examine it for signs of contamination or spoilage:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Butter
  • Coconut shavings
  • Dried fruits
  • Flour
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh spices and herbs
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit pies
  • Hard cheese
  • Margarine
  • Muffins and cakes
  • Nuts
  • Processed cheese

Plus opened jars of jelly, jam, peanut butter, barbecue sauce, taco sauce, relish, chutney, mustard, ketchup, olives, and most salad dressings.

If the disaster has been related to wind damage, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, it is important that you follow these measures:

  • Drink only water that has been approved by authorities as being safe, or that you have ensured is properly chlorinated.
  • Avoid all water from wells and cisterns as they are to be considered unsafe until properly tested and verified.
  • Confirm the condition of all foods and immediately throw out anything that has glass shards, slivers of debris, or in any other way has been compromised or contaminated.
  • Any canned foods which have broken seams must be discarded at once.

if the disaster has been accompanied by flood waters, it is important to note that it is most likely contaminated with raw sewage or animal wastes, thus can be lethal. In these cases, follow these measures:

  • Never use any food which has been soaked or covered in flood water
  • Commercial glass food jars can be safe if the containers are sanitized prior to opening
  • Throw away plastic and wooden utensils, baby items and any other utensils that are porous.
  • Throw away any opened packages or containers; any cans that are rusted, bulging, leaking or even just dented; home-canned foods; any foods stored in canisters, cardboard, paper, foil, cloth, or cellophane; and any preserves which were sealed with paraffin waxes.

Continued In Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Surviving The Cold I

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