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Hurricane Preparedness Tip: Minimizing Food Loss Following a Storm

Updated on August 26, 2011

If a hurricane watch or warning is issued for your area, it's essential to take immediate steps to protect your home and property. There are many things you need to do long before the weather starts to deteriorate to secure your home and belongings and make sure that your family has the supplies and equipment necessary to cope effectively with the storm and its aftermath.

Once you've taken all the necessary hurricane preparedness steps that you need to take to ensure the safety of your home and family members, it's time to focus on the steps you can take to minimize your financial losses following a storm. If you have food stored in your refrigerator and/or freezer, it's important to take steps to minimize the loss of these items following an extended power outage.

Tips for Minimizing Stored Food Losses:

1. Use Your Crock Pot on Storm Day

In my home, when all the storm preparations have been made and we're basically waiting for the wind and rain to start, we always whip up something in the Crock Pot. While it may seem weird to cook when a hurricane is headed your way, it actually makes a lot of sense. When you prepare a meal in a crock pot, assuming that you time your efforts so that the item is actually cooked before the power goes out, it can stay warm for a significant period of time after the power goes out. You're also using items you already have on hand that would very likely go bad during the aftermath of the storm - assuming the power is out for a signifcant perid of time.

I usually make chili or Sloppy Joes. Long before the weather gets bad, I cook the ground beef on the stove and then assemble the recipe in the crock pot. I don't turn the pot off until the power goes out, because it really doesn't matter how long these types of dishes simmer. This allows us to enjoy a hot, home cooked meal even after the power has gone out. It also gives me something constructive to do that helps me cope with the stress of dealing with the approaching storm.

2. Bake Before the Storm Hits

Chances are, you have eggs, milk, and butter in your refrigerator. Once the storm hits and the power goes out, these items are likely to be ruined. However, if you use them to bake a cake, cookies, brownies, bread, etc. before the weather starts to deteriorate; you'll be able to avoid losing these items. You'll also have tasty homemade snacks on hand that can be eaten during and after the storm. Be sure, however, that you only bake items that don't require refrigeration. Otherwise, you've defeated the purpose of this tip. It's also important to plan ahead. Be sure to time your baking efforts so that the items you're making are finished cooking before you're likely to experience a power outage.

3. Stay Out of the Freezer

Once the power has gone out, stay out of the freezer unless it is absolutely necessary to open it. Every time you open the freezer, you let cold air out that can't be replaced when there's no electricity. If you keep the freezer closed, there is less of a risk of losing everything you have on hand assuming the power comes back on fairly quickly.

To further increase your chances of saving the food in your freezer, consider freezing water in Rubbermaid storage containers or other clean containers before the storm hits. This easy hurricane preparedness tip allows you to fill in empty spots in the freezer with ice, to hold in the cold temperatures. This technique also provides you with a safe supply of ice or water to use once the storm has passed.

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