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Be prepared with food in weather, outage

With the colder weather approaching, the lake-effect snows in Western New York are all too familiar. These extreme weather conditions may result in power outages. Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Let’s review food safety precautions to help you keep your food safe during a power outage, and to know when you need to toss food that may make your sick.

Before a power outage, have a plan in place. Below are a few food safety preparation for emergencies or natural disasters.

1. Keep thermometers inside your refrigerator and freezers. During regular conditions, the refrigerator should be at or below 400F and the freezer should be at or below 00F.

2. Have frozen water in your freezer for use in emergency situations. The frozen water containers can be placed in your fridge to keep food at safe temperatures. Additionally, if your water supply becomes contaminated, the thawing frozen water can be used for drinking and cooking.

3. Have coolers on hand in case food needs to be moved from your appliances to maintain food safety.

During a power outage:

1. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If the doors stay closed, the food is safe in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours and up to 48 hours in a full freezer (24 hours in a half full freezer).

2.If the power has been out for 4 hours, it is time to move your refrigerated foods to a cooler with your frozen water containers. If a cooler and ice are not available, then toss perishable foods such as eggs, dairy, and meats. When in doubt, throw it out!

After a power outage, determine if your food safety.

1. Check food temperatures of foods in refrigerator (less than 4 hours) or coolers on ice (greater than 4 hours) to ensure food is below 400F.

2. Check the appliance thermometer in freezer to make sure it reads below 400F. You can safely refreeze or cook thawed foods that still contain ice crystals.

We know the healthy choice is not always the easiest choice, but small changes can make a big difference. Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Dietitian, Carey Skelton RDN is available for nutrition counseling and SNAP-ed programs. The SNAP-ed programs are FREE for those who receive or qualify for SNAP benefits. We want to help you save time, save money, and eat healthy! Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Senior Nutrition Program also provides nutritious meals through Home Delivered Meals, Congregate Dining In Sites, as well as a Restaurant Dining Out Program throughout the county. We also sponsor several exercise programs.

Please remember to contribute toward your OFAS nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable without the support of participants and community contributions. Be aware that SNAP benefits can be used toward your contribution. Call NY Connects at 716-453-4582 for more details and information.

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