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Eating Without Power

Canned Goods

  • In most cases, their shelf life is indefinite. Companies that put expiration dates on canned goods mostly do so to make consumers feel better, according to the Canned Good Information Council. Typically, those expiration dates are good two to three years after the goods go on the shelf.
  • If a can becomes bloated, don’t eat the contents.
  • Canned foods are cooked foods and can be heated in the can after the lid and label are removed. Some, such as whole-kernel corn, can be eaten cold out of the can.
  • Canned vegetables can be mixed easily for cold salads or quickly heated (on a grill) for side dishes.
  • Snacks

  • Other foods that don’t require cooking and are good in emergencies: granola bars, cereal (with powdered milk), nuts (if they are in airtight packages).
  • Squeeze cheese is one of those remarkable foods that requires no refrigeration.
  • Think small — since you can’t put leftovers in the refrigerator — small individual packets of mayonnaise, small cans of evaporated milk. Small cans of tuna and baked beans.
  • Grilling

  • If the power is out for days, grilling outdoors may be your best bet for hot meals. Never cook indoors. Toxic carbon monoxide fumes can collect and cause illness or death.
  • Which Grill For You?

  • One advantage the propane grills have over charcoal grills is that their fuel supply won’t get wet during the rains that accompany hurricanes. Charcoal grills range in price from $25 for a basic portable grill to $800 for larger charcoal kettles. Talk with a salesperson to decide which grill best fits your needs.
  • Some Tips to Remember

  • The average charcoal grill needs about two pounds of charcoal for each meal. Make sure to have an adequate supply of charcoal (20-30 pounds) stored in a cool, dry place. Also, have lighter fluid and a lighter or matches ready.
  • To save charcoal, close the grill’s hood and vents after cooking. The charcoal will eventually stop burning and you won’t need to add as much the next time you cook.
  • Making Ice Last

    Thaw Rate

  • A full freezer will stay cold longer.
  • With the door closed, food in most freezers will stay frozen 1 to 3 days, even in the summer.
  • The colder the food, the longer it will stay frozen.
  • A well-insulated freezer will keep food frozen longer that one with little insulation.
  • The larger the freezer, the longer food will stay frozen.
  • After a hurricane, electrical power may be out for several days. Refrigerated and frozen foods will spoil after a few days without power, but there are some steps that you can take to help keep your food longer.

  • Prior to a storm, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting.
  • If possible, remove foods from your refrigerator that you plan to use during and immediately after the storm and place them in an ice chest filled with ice.
  • Freeze plastic containers of water and place in your freezer and refrigerator, then do not open the doors unless absolutely necessary. This will help maintain food-preserving temperatures for a longer period.
  • You can also use dry ice in your freezer. It is also a good idea to cover the freezer with quilts or blankets, making sure that you do not obstruct any ventilation openings.
  • Planning ahead before a storm can eliminate long searches for ice.

  • Stockpile ice in the freezer. A block of ice or several bags of crushed ice can keep food cold for days in the freezer or in an ice chest. If an ice maker is part of the refrigerator, periodically emptying the cube holder into a plastic bag and storing that ice is an inexpensive way to keep a sufficient quantity for an emergency.
  • First be sure the freezer or ice chest is airtight. Then pack any open space around the block or bag of ice with a towel, blanket or newspaper. Otherwise, warmer air around the ice will cause it to evaporate more rapidly.
  • Ice kept in a freezer for a long period may develop an unpleasant odor and taste. Change out stored ice every few weeks so there is a supply of good-tasting ice. The more airtight the containers, the less odor the ice will absorb.
  • Regular ice is below 32 degrees and will keep things cold; dry ice is 109 degrees below zero and will keep things frozen. The supply of dry ice is always more limited, but if you can get it and keep it in an airtight container, your frozen food will stay frozen for a long period.
  • Other Cool Tips

  • If it’s really hot, an ice bag on the back of the neck can help keep you cool.
  • A battery-powered fan blowing across a bowl or pan of ice is the forerunner of air conditioning and offers a respite from the heat.
  • Purifying/Storing Water

  • Plan to have 3 gallons of water per person per day. Some relief agencies are suggesting that families plan to be without water and electrical services for two weeks instead of three to five days, so you may want to factor accordingly to be on the safe side. Also remember that you will need drinking water for pets.
  • Stock the refrigerator with bottled water. For a cheaper option, reuse 2- liter plastic bottles rather than buying bottled water. The American Red Cross also suggests buying food grade plastic buckets or drums. Seal the water containers tightly and label and date them. Store them in a cool, dark place and they will be useable for up to six months.
  • Fill sinks and bathtubs half a day before the hurricane. Test the drains to make sure they are watertight. If you have a leak, use plastic wrap to line the sink or tub.
  • Also fill the washing machine, which can provide gallons of water suitable for cleaning dishes or washing hands.
  • To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. If you empty the tank, do not turn on the gas or electricity to the unit.
  • Water Purification

  • Boiling is the safest method for treating water.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate.
  • Boiled water tastes better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.
  • Water purification supplies: Clorox or other household bleach that is fragrance-free; or iodine tablets, which are available at some sporting goods stores.

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