Synovia Simons, MS, RDN, LDN
Happy July, Neighborly clients! Are you prepared for hurricane season?
June was the beginning of hurricane season, but it peaks in August so, you still have time to prepare. It is vital to purchase your hurricane supplies, including water and food, before a hurricane to avoid a shortage of supplies. Not sure how to prepare for a major storm? Here are some tips to help.
Storms and the damage they cause can be unpredictable! Power outages, flooding, blocked roads, or even damage to your car can prevent you from getting the water, food, and medications you need. So, it’s critical to have enough of these items on hand.
The recommendation for water is 5 gallons per person or 1 gallon per person for at least 5 days. Five gallons is approximately 40 regular-size (16.9 oz) water bottles or five 1-gallon jugs. You will also want to store 3 to 5 days of non-perishable food. Stock up on the foods you enjoy that do not need refrigeration or to be cooked in case of a power outage. If you have canned foods, be sure you have a non-electric can opener because without power you will not be able to open your cans. Lastly, have at least a 4-week supply of prescription medications. Having all of these items will keep you healthy if you’re without power or can’t leave the house for a few days.
Ensuring you have the necessary supplies and knowing how to prepare your home is important in planning for this season. Be sure to take these precautions if you are under a hurricane watch or warning. Check the temperature inside your freezer and refrigerator. The freezer temperature should be 0 degrees or below. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees or below. Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, other dairy products, fresh meat, and poultry. You can also freeze jugs of water, gel packs or buy dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer cold.
If you lose power for more than 4 hours, follow these steps to determine if your perishable food is safe to eat. Discard any refrigerated, perishable food like milk, meat, or eggs held higher than 40 degrees. And when in doubt, throw it out. Never taste food to determine if it is safe. This could make you sick!
Did you know?
- A full freezer will hold its temperature for 48 hours & a half-full freezer for 24 hours if the door stays closed
- A refrigerator will keep food safe for 4 hours if the door stays closed
- Grouping food together in the refrigerator or freezer will maintain a cold temperature for a longer time
- Keeping the doors closed as much as possible will help to maintain the cold temperature.
Remember, it is vital to plan ahead for hurricane season because waiting until the last minute could be detrimental to your health and safety.
- Ensure you have adequate food, water, and prescription medications.
- Prepare your refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage.
The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has prepared a Disaster Resource Guide for Older Adults for more hurricane tips and resources. You can always call your Neighborly Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist for more help. Stay safe, everyone!
Download the PDF for the Disaster Resource Guide for Older Adults.
- Food Safety Basics. Food Safety and Inspection Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and preparation/emergencies/consumers-guide-food-safety-severe Foodsafety.gov. Accessed 4 June 2021
- A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes. Food Safety and Inspection Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/emergencies/consumers-guide-food-safety-severe Accessed 4 June 2021