September is National Preparedness Month

Be prepared for emergencies and disasters. Know how to keep food safe and when food is no longer safe to eat.

Recent weather related events throughout the United States reminds us to take stock of our own situations. We need to be prepared for emergencies and disasters, know how to keep food safe and know when it is not safe. Ready.gov is one source of information that provides factual and concise information on many types of emergencies and disasters.

Michigan State University Extension and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer information to keep food safe after a disaster or emergency. It is important to keep a three day or more supply of nonperishable foods and commercially bottled water. Some shelf stable items to consider are canned fruit or vegetables, shelf-stable cans of meat, poultry, fish, jars of peanut butter and jelly, small packages of cereal, granola bars, and crackers and non-fat dry milk. Select small cans of food so there won’t be any leftovers that will need refrigeration. Make sure you have a manual can opener for canned foods. An outdoor grill can be used with charcoal for heating.

The Food Safety Inspection Service offers precautionary home preparedness for perishable foods if you have loss of power. Just remember to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. You should first use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer. You should have a refrigerator thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer at all times.

Keeping you and your family safe from emergencies and disasters takes organization and planning. Assess your family’s needs: are their small children, pets, older adults? Does anyone require certain medications? Do you have a waterproof folder or container to store important papers that can be carried with you if you need to leave your home?

Hopefully, you will never have a need to use these supplies and your emergency plan, but if you do need it you will be ready. 

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