Food Safety Advice For Residents As They Regain Power
White Plains, NY - The Westchester County Health Department wants residents to feed their families and themselves safely as power is restored to more homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.If your home has been without power, discard any perishable food that has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or more. In most cases, this means you should empty out, clean and sanitize your refrigerator and freezer to prevent bacteria from growing.
“Throw away meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, mayonnaise, leftovers and any condiments that require refrigeration,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health. “Remember to clear out the thawed-out food in your freezer as well. This may be costly and one more item on a long to-do list, but it’s vital for your family’s health and safety.’’
- Throw away any food (including packaged food) that was touched by flood water. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Inspect canned food and throw away any food in damaged cans.
- Frozen foods that thawed should be cooked and consumed prior to reaching 41 degrees for more than 4 hours, or be discarded.
In Westchester, public water supplies are safe. Residents who have been away from home should run their faucets for a minute or two to avoid using water that has been sitting in the pipes for several days.
Residents with private wells whose properties were flooded should either use bottled water or boil their water for a minute before drinking, brushing teeth or cooking with it as a precaution, since sewage and other harmful contaminants can be washed into private wells by storm waters. Residents should have their water tested if it is evident that their well cap was submerged. Dishwashers can be used as usual and well water can be used without boiling to wash clothes.
Residents should contact a well professional for help in dealing with the impacts of flood water on their water quality and well system. Instructions on how to disinfect wells, storage tanks and house piping can be found on www.westchestergov.com/health.
The Health Department also cautions those who handle the cleanup of flood waters and mud that both may contain sewage and/or other contaminants. Heavy work gloves, long sleeved shirts, pants and boots should be worn during cleanup to avoid direct contact with the skin. Anyone involved with cleanup who gets a cut or puncture wound should contact their physician or visit an emergency room to determine whether a Tetanus vaccine or booster is needed.
For more information on post-storm safety, visit www.westchestergov.com/health and www.westchestergov.com.