Keeping Food Safe During An Emergency

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Food Safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing recommendations in advance of Tropical Storm Arlene, which is expected to hit the Gulf Coast States this weekend. USDA is hopeful that this information will help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to power outages or flooding.

Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:

  • Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.

  • Make sure the freezer is at or below 0˚ F and the refrigerator is at or below 40˚ F.
    Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.


  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately - this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.

  • Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
    Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

  • Group food together in the freezer