How to prepare food for power outages

Aug. 28, 2012 at 1:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- As Gulf Coast residents prepares for Tropical Storm Isaac the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service urges food safety preparation.

"Storing perishable food at proper temperatures is crucial to food safety but can become difficult if you lose electricity for your refrigerator and freezer," Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, said in a statement. "For those living in Tropical Storm Isaac's projected path, we recommend stocking up on canned food, bottled water, batteries, and dry ice."

A publication can be printed and kept for reference during a power outage.

To prepare for a possible weather emergency:

-- Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to ensure the refrigerator is at 40 degrees F or lower and the freezer should be 0 degrees F or lower.

-- Store food on shelves high enough to avoid contaminated water in case of flooding.

-- Group food together in the freezer to help food stay cold longer.

-- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer.

-- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.

-- Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

-- Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

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