Food Safety for the public and businesses during flooding and power outages:
As we have seen in the news recently, flooding and wind can cause some pretty big problems! When the power goes out or when flooding begins, it is important to continue to focus on food safety to prevent food borne illnesses. This includes knowing the proper food safety precautions to take before, during, and after a power outage – and being prepared to safely handle food and water in the event that flooding occurs.
In your home:
- Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer.
- Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 °F, and the refrigerator is at or below 40 °F.
- In case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- Purchase or make ice cubes in advance and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
- Check out local sources to know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased, just in case.
- Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
- Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding.
For more helpful food safety tips, see attached below.
In your business:
To ensure safety, establishments regulated by the Buncombe County Health Department that experience a loss of water, loss of water pressure, sewage backup, flooding, or power loss must contact Buncombe County Health Department- Environmental Health before resuming operations. The Buncombe County Environmental Health Department (BCEH), will be available to assist all food vendors if inclement weather impacts your operations. Our phone number is (828) 250-5016 (Press 1 for service desk). We can also be reached by email at EHRequest@buncombecounty.org. For more information, the Food Service Weather Action Plan can be found below.