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KNOCKOUT BLOW

- Keep Food Safety in Mind During Unexpected Power Outages Caused by Severe Summer Weather –

When it comes to food safety, severe summer weather that knocks out power to homes and communities can be a recipe for disaster.

Extensive blackouts and extended electricity disruptions can affect the safety of food stored in refrigerators and freezers. For thatreason, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit encourages area residents to take precautions to avoid getting sick from food that thaws and becomes spoiled.

“We want people to be safe, not sorry, when it comes to the food they eat, and that is never more important than during unexpected power outages,” says Richard Ovcharovich, the Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The best and simplest advice is this: if in doubt about the safety of any food item, throw it out.”

Local residents are encouraged to consider the following safety tips when it comes to storing food in fridges and freezers during power outages:

  • Keep the refrigerator or freezer door closed at all times to maintain the temperature inside. Avoid unnecessary opening and closing of the fridge or freezer to check the food inside. Typically without power, the refrigerator section will keep foods cool for four to six hours if the door is kept closed. During a blackout, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full can keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day.
  • If possible, add bags of ice to the refrigerator or freezer to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period.
  • If the power is going to be off for an extended period of time, consider taking food to a freezer belonging to a friend or neighbour who has power.
  • Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
  • As soon as possible, throw out any food that is off-colour or has a bad odour.
  • Contact a health care provider for information about proper storage of medication that requires refrigeration, such as insulin.

“Another way to prepare for an unexpected power outage is to keep an extra supply of food in your home that doesn’t need to be kept cool in a fridge or freezer,” Ovcharovich adds. “Ready-to-eat, non-perishable items such as canned ham, tuna and salmon, energy bars, and dried foods are invaluable when electricity is knocked out and it may be impossible to cook or warm up food.”

For additional food safety information, local residents can contact a Public Health Inspector in their local Health Unit office or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

Ovcharovich also urges caution if people use a portable generator to keep the power flowing to fridges and freezers during a blackout. He warns that without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide poisoning from the engine exhaust could result if the generator is placed indoors, or even used inside a garage, basement, carport, crawlspace or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324- 3569

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