ALERT: USDA OFFERS FOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR HURRICANE VICTIMS
THIS IS A HEALTH HAZARD SITUATION WHERE THE IMPROPER USE OF FOOD DURING CRISIS EVENTS SUCH AS HURRICANE HARVEY OR IRMA COULD LEAD TO SERIOUS ADVERSE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.
After Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas, destroying everything in its path, survivors have been struggling to bring security to the situation. One major health concern that’s been facing officials has been the distribution of food and water that isn’t contaminated.
It’s estimated that the average human body can only go without food for around ten days, but can only survive for two days without water. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that food and water be distributed equally amongst the victims, to ensure the highest probability of survival.
In response to the destruction Harvey has caused, the USDA has released a set of food safety tips which are applicable to both Hurricane Harvey’s path of devastation, and the upcoming path of devastation that Hurricane Irma will likely cause throughout the East Coast.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Irma.
The National Hurricane Center expects Hurricane Irma to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean as an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane, accompanied by life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall. Hurricane warnings are in effect for portions of the Leeward Islands. Tropical-storm force winds are expected to first arrive in the hurricane warning area later today.
Irma is expected to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a dangerous major hurricane beginning tomorrow, with life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall. Hurricane warnings have been issued for these areas. There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend. Otherwise, it is still too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental U.S. However, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.
Hurricanes present the possibility of power outages and flooding that can compromise the safety of stored food. Residents in the path of this storm should pay close attention to the forecast. FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during this and other severe weather events.
They recommend that all victims take the following steps BEFORE they lose power:
Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
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