Food Safety Tips that Minimize Potential for Foodborne Illnesses during the Hurricane Season
Eight storm systems have already formed for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, and it is not yet over, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Thursday.
?The country is now in the peak period of activity in the hurricane season. We can expect more storm/hurricane activity and therefore everyone must be prepared and ready to take action when called upon to do so. I urge you all to remain vigilant and closely monitor weather reports in the coming days and weeks,? National Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Clive Richardson said on Thursday.
The remaining names for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season are: Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.
ODM is advising residents to review their hurricane emergency supply kit to make sure they have enough non-perishable food items to keep them going for up to a minimum of seven days.
ODM adds that residents should already have everything in place to avoid a rush in the event there is a hurricane threat to the country.
Households are going to need supplies not just to get through the storm/hurricane, but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath depending on the amount of damage that has been left behind by the passing of a hurricane.
Every household must have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family for a minimum of seven days. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long.
The objective is also to minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses in the event of power outages associated with the passing of a hurricane.
Hurricanes not only pose dangers to people?s physical safety, but also power outages can affect the safety of the food people may depend on after a hurricane has hit the island.
Steps to be taken before the arrival of a hurricane: Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature inside the
refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.
Make sure the freezer is at 0°F/-17C or below and the refrigerator is at 40°F/4.4C or below. Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.
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. Plan and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four (4) hours. Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
Group food together in the freezer ? this helps the food stay cold longer. Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
Steps to follow after the hurricane has passed are: Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four (4) hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer. Never taste a food to determine its safety!
When buying prepared food from restaurants after the passing of a storm or hurricane, ask critical questions about the food preparation and always use your senses: smell and taste; and if you suspect or doubt the quality of the food, throw it out!
For general information about preparing prior to a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your ?Hurricane Season Readiness Guide? and ?Hurricane Tracking Chart.?
Listen to the Government Radio station ? 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.
For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of Sint Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com or via www.facebook.com/sxmweather