Consider these food safety tips for when you experience a storm

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I believe we in Escambia County and surrounding areas were extremely blessed last weekend when the tornado came roaring through our little communities. Yes, there were some tree fallings, broken branches and debris thrown about.

However, the important thing is that no lives were lost. Alleluia!

In the past few years, Alabama has felt the impact of floods, tornados, hurricanes and even ice storms. In these times of confusion, it is not always easy to know exactly what to do.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Here are some tips to keep your food refrigerated and to stay safe.
Keeping refrigerated and frozen food safe

One main factor in keeping food safe is keeping it at the proper temperature. The only way you can know if your food is at the correct temperature is to use a thermometer. There are several types that you need to have in your kitchen. One is a refrigerator/freezer thermometer. One of these thermometers should be placed in your refrigerator to assure you that the food is kept at below 40 degrees F. Another one of these kind of thermometers should go in your freezer to insure that your food is kept at below 0 degrees.
Keeping refrigerated food cold when the power goes out

In a refrigerator without power food will remain chilled for up to 4 to 6 hours. This temperature will keep the longest if you do not open the door of the refrigerator while the power is out. If you think that the power will be out longer than this, add bags of regular ice in your refrigerator to keep the temperatures cool longer. Place the ice on the upper shelves and pans to catch the melting ice on the lower shelves. The more ice you use, the longer the temperature will stay cool. Open the door only to add ice. Place a thermometer in the area farthest from the ice. Check the refrigerator temperature when adding ice. As soon as the power returns check to be certain that food has been kept below 40 degrees.
Keeping frozen food frozen

When the power goes off, food will remain frozen in your freezer for several hours—maybe as long as several days. If your freezer is full and not opened during the power outage, the food will remain frozen for up to two days — even if it is in the heat of the summer. (You can also cover the freezer with blankets). If the freezer is only half-full, food may stay frozen only one day. This time will also depend on the seals in your freezer. If there is leaking around the seals allowing cold air to escape, your food will thaw much faster. Replace loose gaskets now to help preserve your food when the power does go out in the future. Remember to keep that door shut.
Food safety during power outages

During power outages, food spoilage can be a serious problem when refrigerators and freezers lose power. Consumers can help avoid spoilage and foodborne illness in their homes by making sure foods stay properly refrigerated during a power outage.

Be prepared

Make sure — before an outage — that the refrigerator is set below 40 degrees. Stock up on nonperishable foods that do not require refrigeration, and choose single-serve sizes if available to avoid the need for refrigeration of unused portions.

Consider these easy, nutritious, shelf-stable foods:

• Breads and grains: single-serving boxes of whole-grain cereal, trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, cereal bars, bagels, crackers and popcorn

• Fruits and vegetables: carrot and celery sticks and other cut-up raw vegetables, grapes, single-serve applesauce, whole fruit (apples, peaches, bananas), dried fruit mix and juice boxes

• Dairy: single-serve milk or soy beverage boxes and non-refrigerated pudding cups

• Meat and other protein sources: cans of tuna, peanut butter (for sandwiches or with celery and apples), nuts and single-serve packages of peanut butter and crackers. Source: