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Ice Ice Baby: Food Safety Tips for Winter Storms

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We've had ice, sleet, snow and frigid cold temperatures in abundance. One paralyzing winter storm after another will likely make the winter of 2013-14 one for the record books. With much of the country under layers of cold and bracing for more extreme weather, foodborne illnesses might not be on your radar.

Most people prepare for a storm by thinking about batteries, generators and blankets. But it’s important to know that floods and power outages from hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter snow storms can cut off water supplies and quickly contaminate food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s some tips to protect yourself, your family, and your pets from foodborne illnesses.

Have On Hand Before The Storm:

Appliance thermometers
Thermometers in the freezer and refrigerator are the best way to help gauge whether or not food is at a safe temperature to eat after a power shortage.

Ready-to-eat foods
Keep a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling, in the event of a power outage. Store nonperishable food high on shelves, in case of flood.

Water frozen in small containers or one-quart plastic zipper bags
These containers of ice will help keep refrigerated food cold or can be melted if water supply is contaminated or cut off. Don’t fill the containers too full. Liquids expand when frozen and could split the bag.

Bottled water
A good rule of thumb is one gallon per day, per person, for at least three days. Any plastic or glass container that previously held food or beverages such as 2-liter soda bottles or water, juice, punch or milk jugs, also may be used.

Have extra water available for pets. Store containers in a cool dark place.

Manual can opener
This can opener could be all that stands between you and your tins of food in a power outage. The only power it needs is in your hands.

Keep this within reach for disinfecting.

What to Do In Case The Power Goes Out:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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