Take these precautions when a natural disaster hits here

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

If you are interested in participating in ServSave training, than the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) is sponsoring a ServSave Certification Training classes at the Escambia County Extension Office at 175 Ag Science Dr. (behind Southern Pine Electric on Hwy. 31 South) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Wed., Sept. 13 and Thurs., Sept. 14.

The classes cost $125 and registration is mandatory. To register or for more information, call Rebecca Catalena at 251-234-1050.

Power outage

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As close as we are to Northwest Florida and the Florida panhandle, we have been blessed with light rain and breezy winds, which mounts to pleasant weather so far. However, things may change and we want you to be prepared in case the power goes out. This is valuable information you can clip and save or share with others as they journey back to their homes in Florida.

Food and water safety when the power goes out

After a disaster, there remains the overwhelming job of cleaning up. One of the biggest areas of concern is the safety of food and water.

Water after a storm

After a major storm, assume that all water sources are contaminated until proved safe. Purify all water used for drinking, for cooking and for washing utensils. Also purify the water used for washing hands, bathing and cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Do not try to purify water that has a dark color, an odor or contains floating material.

Disinfecting water

To disinfect water, use one of the following methods:

• Boil at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.

• Add 1 teaspoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per 5 gallons of water. Make sure the bleach contains 4 to

• 6 percent sodium hypochlorite as its only active ingredient.

• Add 12 drops of tincture of iodine per gallon of water.

• Add water purification tablets according to directions on the package.

Thoroughly mix one of these solutions, and let the water stand at least 30 minutes before using. When using bleach, smell the water. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it doesn’t smell, repeat the treatment, wait 15 minutes, and smell again. To lessen the flat taste of boiled water, pour the water back and forth several times between two clean containers to add air.

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 you need. One is a refrigerator/freezer thermometer. Place one in your refrigerator to assure the food is kept at below 40 degrees. Keep another of these thermometers in your freezer to ensure your food is kept at below 0 degrees.

Keeping refrigerated food cold

In a refrigerator without power, food will remain chilled for up to four to six hours. This temperature will keep the longest if you don’t open the door of the refrigerator while the power is out. If you think the power will be out longer than this, add bags of ice to keep the temperatures cool longer. Place the ice on the upper shelves and pans on the lower shelves to catch the melting ice. The more ice you use, the longer the temperature will stay cool. Only open the door 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 if food has been kept at below 40 degrees.

Keeping 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. If the freezer is only half full, food may stay frozen only one day. This time also depends on the seals in your freezer. If cold air is leaking around the seals, your food will thaw much faster. Replace loose gaskets now to help preserve your food when the power does go out in the future. The following are other factors that affect how long your food will stay frozen:

• The size of the freezer. The bigger the freezer, the longer the food will stay frozen.

• The type of food in the freezer. Food with more water (fruits, vegetables and meats) will stay frozen longer than food with little water (bread and nuts).

• The insulation in the freezer. If your freezer has only a thin layer of insulation, food will thaw more rapidly.

• The cavity depth of the freezer. The deeper chest-type freezers allow the food to remain frozen longer than upright freezers.

Cooking when the power goes out

After a storm has knocked out electricity or gas lines, cooking meals can be hazardous if a few basic rules are not followed.

• Never use charcoal or gas grills indoors. If you do, you risk asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of starting a fire that could destroy your home.

• Always use camp stoves that use gasoline or solid fuel outdoors.

• Use small electrical appliances if you have access to an electric generator with sufficient capacity.

• Use wood for cooking in some situations.

• Make sure the stovepipe has not been damaged if you’re cooking on a wood stove.

• Build outside fires away from buildings. Never build a fire in a carport. Sparks can easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire.

• Never use gasoline to start a wood or charcoal fire.

• Contain any fire you build. A metal drum or stones around the firebed are good precautions. A charcoal grill is a good place to build a wood fire. Put out any fire when you are through with it.

• Never leave an open fire, canned heat or candle unattended. Keep children away at all times.

For more information, visit www.aces.edu.