Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency

Post Date:08/30/2017 5:46 PM

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Food: Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods, and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.

Water: Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

 

Food

Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat.

  • Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more.
  • Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
  • Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, snap-open, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.
  • If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/250 mL) of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Re-label the cans with a marker. Include the expiration date.
  • Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

Store food safely

  • While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces.

CDC recommends discarding wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers. These items cannot be properly sanitized if they have come into contact with flood waters. Clean and sanitize food-contact surfaces in a four-step process:

  1. Wash with soap and warm, clean water.
  2. Rinse with clean water.
  3. Sanitize by immersing for 1 minute in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach (5.25%, unscented) per gallon of clean water.
  4. Allow to air dry.

 

Water

Safe Drinking Water

After an emergency, especially after flooding, drinking water may not be available or safe to drink for personal use. Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice, or make baby formula.

Note: Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

Floods and other disasters can damage drinking water wells and lead to aquifer and well contamination. Flood waters can contaminate well water with livestock waste, human sewage, chemicals, and other contaminants which can lead to illness when used for drinking, bathing, and other hygiene activities.

Before an emergency or a temporary problem with a community water system, a community drinking water treatment facility should have an emergency plan in the event that service is disrupted. Water treatment facilities monitor drinking water to meet federal and state regulations.

Make Water Safe

Water often can be made safe to drink by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering.

IMPORTANT: Water contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals will not be made safe by boiling or disinfection. Use a different source of water if you know or suspect that water might be contaminated with fuel or toxic chemicals.

Boiling

If you don’t have safe bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling is the surest method to make water safer to drink by killing disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

You can improve the flat taste of boiled water by pouring it from one container to another and then allowing it to stand for a few hours, OR by adding a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water.

If the water is cloudy,

  • Filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle.
  • Draw off the clear water.
  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

If the water is clear,

  • Bring the clear water to a rolling boil for one minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes).
  • Let the boiled water cool.
  • Store the boiled water in clean sanitized containers with tight covers.

Disinfectants

If you don’t have clean, safe, bottled water and if boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets. These can kill most harmful organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. However, only chlorine dioxide tablets are effective in controlling more resistant organisms, such as the parasite Cryptosporidium.
To disinfect water,

  • Clean and disinfect water containers properly before each use. Use containers that are approved for water storage. Do not use containers previously used to store chemicals or other hazardous materials.
  • Filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter OR allow it to settle.
  • Draw off the clear water.
    • When using household chlorine bleach:
      • Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops; about 0.625 milliliters) of unscented liquid household chlorine (5–6%) bleach for each gallon of clear water (or 2 drops of bleach for each liter or each quart of clear water).Add 1/4 teaspoon (or 16 drops; about 1.50 milliliters) of bleach for each gallon of cloudy water (or 4 drops of bleach for each liter or each quart of cloudy water).
      • Stir the mixture well.
      • Let it stand for 30 minutes or longer before you use it.
      • Store the disinfected water in clean, disinfected containers with tight covers.
    • When using iodine:
    • When using chlorine dioxide tablets:

More info: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/facts.html

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