Food and water: When in doubt, throw it out

Published: Monday, May 18, 2015 @ 10:27 PM
Updated: Monday, May 18, 2015 @ 10:27 PM

FOOD

Do NOT depend on smell or taste to determine safety of foods.

Throw out any meat, chicken, seafood or dairy product, raw or uncooked, that isn’t at 40 degrees or below (look for visible ice crystals).

Use all perishable foods before shelf-stable ones.

Cook perishable proteins — meats, eggs and poultry — first.

Even cooked meat must stay cold and is good for only three to four days after thawing, and under refrigeration.

Throw out any raw or cooked meat or dairy food that has been sitting at 40 degrees or above more than two hours. If it’s 90 degrees or more outside, 1 hour is the limit on leaving foods out.

Keep hands and preparation surfaces clean.

Use bleach wipes or white vinegar to keep counters and surfaces clean; water from the tap may contaminate surfaces.

Use only bottled water for washing food, hands, surfaces and utensils.

WHAT WILL KEEP

These foods will keep at least two weeks without power:

Condiments
  • Vinaigrette salad dressings — but no creamy ones
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relishes, pickles and chutney
  • Foil packs of mayonnaise
  • Steak sauces, including Worcestershire, A-1 and HP
  • Tabasco and any commercially bottled hot sauce made with vinegar
  • Barbecue sauces
  • Jellies, jams and syrups

    Cereals and grains

  • Boxed cereals
  • Flours
  • Rice, barley, pastas, oats, seeds
  • Cake mixes
  • Dry pet foods

    Unopened foods

  • Unopened cans, bags, boxes, jars and pouches (these are safe UNLESS the boxes get wet or cans are dented)

    Other foods that are safe

  • Peanut butter
  • Processed or hard cheeses, or cheese spreads not from the refrigerated case
  • Honey
  • Most oils (some oils such as sesame, walnut oil or peanut oils may go rancid and taste off in high heat, but they are safe)
  • Spices (check for weevils; the taste quality will be affected after storage in high heat)
  • Baking goods: Nuts, candied fruits, bagged coconut, chocolate or fruit syrups, chocolate bars or chips, nuts
  • Potatoes, carrots, onions and turnips generally will last at room temperatures (discard if wet)

    What to throw out

    These foods must be thrown out if your refrigerator is off longer than four hours, or if your freezer has been off for more than 48 hours (only 24 hours for a half-full freezer):

  • All fresh meats, chicken or seafood
  • Any cured meats — hot dogs, lunch meats, ham, bacon (shelf-stable bacon is OK)
  • All dairy products and all foods that contain them (yogurt, cottage cheese, semi-soft and soft cheese, grated cheese, any milk products)
  • Opened jars of mayonnaise
  • Eggs that have been at room temperaturemore than 4 hours
  • Egg substitutes
  • Garlic or tomatoes packed in oil

    Use with caution up to 2 days:

  • Frozen fruits and frozen vegetables with no sauces will keep up to 48 hours in a cooler.
  • Eggs, uncracked, kept in cooler

    Important: Foods that are labeled kosher, cured, natural or organic have nothing to do with how long a food lasts. Do NOT use those labels as a safety gauge.

    WATER

    Don’t ration.

    Drink as much as you need. Look for more water later.

    Treat opened bottles of water as food: Bacteria will grow in it if contaminated; don’t reuse plastic bottles. Open and use it quickly or chill it.

    Use water in tub, pipes, water heater or toilet tank for washing or flushing.

    You can use water in water heater. Turn off power and open spigot at the bottom. Don’t reconnect the water heater until you’re told the water supply is safe.

    PURIFIED WATER

    If you must purify water:

    Use 8 drops unscented liquid chlorine bleach (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clear water or 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon of cloudy water. Mix thoroughly and let stand 30 minutes.

    Water should have a slight chlorine smell; if it doesn’t, repeat dose and let stand another 15 minutes.

    If you use household (2 percent) tincture of iodine, use 12 drops per gallon.

    Don’t use the wrong strength!

  • Storm prep checklist for outside the home

    Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
    Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM

    
            Storm prep checklist for outside the home

    WHEN THE STORM THREATENS:

    Refill special medications.

    Get cash (ATMs may not work for days after). Don’t charge credit cards to the limit; you might need extra cash after the storm.

    Get supplies. Follow instructions in this guide for food and water.

    Don’t fill gasoline cans until right before the storm; they are a fire hazard.

    Fill vehicle fuel tank. Gas stations could run out and some will not have power to run pumps. Check your car’s battery, water, oil. Make sure you have a spare tire and buy aerosol kits that fix and inflate flats.

    Check fire extinguishers.

    If you own a boat, make necessary preparations.

    Prepare your pool. Don’t drain it.

    If you own a plane, have it flown out or secured.

    WHEN THE STORM IS APPROACHING:

    Get shutters, storm panels or plywood in place on windows. If you haven’t installed sockets, attach with wood screws; they’re better than nails and do less damage.

    Don’t tape windows; tape can create daggers of glass and in the heat can later bake onto panes.

    Remove swings and tarps from swing sets. Tie down anything you can’t bring in. Check for loose rain gutters, moldings.

    Move grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage.

    If you do any last-minute pruning, take clippings inside so they don’t become hazards in the wind.

    Disconnect and remove satellite dish or antenna from your roof.

    Check your mailbox. If it’s loose, secure or remove it.

    Remove roof turbines and cap holes with screw-on caps. Unsecured turbines can fly off and create a large hole for rain to pour through.

    Prepare patio screening. It usually is built to sustain tropical-force winds, but with higher winds, it can separate from the frame. Officials recommend you remove a 6-foot panel on each side to let wind pass through. Pull out the tubing that holds screening in frame to remove screen.

    Secure and brace external doors, especially the garage door and double doors.

    Move vehicles out of flood-prone areas and into garages if possible. If not, park cars away from trees and close to homes or buildings.

    Don’t turn off your natural gas at the main meter. Only emergency or utility people should do that.

    Landscapes: Trees and yard

    Published: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM
    Updated: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM

    Trees should be trimmed by early June, before storms threaten. Many municipalities have “amnesty” weeks before storm season, when you can deposit more than the allowable limit of yard debris. Call municipalities for more information.

    Call a professional. Trees trimmed by a professional arborist are far less likely to go down in a storm.

    Thinning a tree allows wind to blow through its canopy, offering less wind resistance in a storm. Prune young trees to create a single leader, which will grow into a strong trunk.

    To minimize damage to a mature tree, eliminate weak branches and reduce the length of limbs at a tree’s sides. Don’t remove interior branches, as this can make a tree unbalanced.

    Hatracked trees become sails. Removing a tree’s canopy encourages bushy growth, which makes a tree top heavy and wind-resistant. Some hatracked trees “sailed” directly to the ground. Hatracking is illegal.

    ‘Lifted’ trees mean broken branches. “Lifting” is a common practice where the lower branches are removed to provide clearance underneath. Lifting contributes to branch breakage and makes the tree top heavy.

    Don’t wait until the storm is threatening to prune. If the trash pickup doesn’t get to your curb before the storm strikes, you’ve created a pile of potential missiles.

    Coconuts behave like cannonballs in high winds. Remove them well before a storm hits. If trees are too tall for you to reach, hire a tree trimmer.

  • More hurricane tree protection tips

    Tips for your yard

    Take in hanging pots and baskets. Secure or take in pots from shadehouses.

  • Secure young trees with additional stakes.

    Don’t remove fruit. If you put it in a trash pile and the pile isn’t picked up, the fruit may fly around in the wind.

    Tree-dwelling bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids can be secured with fishing line.

    Take in or tie up any piles of yard or construction debris.

    Take in all garden furniture, grills, tiki torches and other outdoor items. (Do not sink furniture in swimming pool.)

    Consider removing gates and trellises.

    Palms, native trees fared best through 3 hurricanes

    In high wind, palms will bend but not always break. Since they originated in the tropics and subtropics, their supple trunks have adapted to hurricanes.

    Plant palms in clumps around the edge of your garden (not near the house) to block the wind and protect more fragile plants inside. Although fronds will be damaged in a storm, most of these palms will recover.

    Ficus trees come down easily in storms

    Ficus trees are not meant for residential yards. They grow to 70 feet with a massive span of shallow roots, and come down easily in high winds.

    If you already have a ficus, have it professionally trimmed before hurricane season begins. (If you have Australian pine and ficus in your yard, consider removing them.)

    Stake small trees as a storm approaches with stakes driven at least 8 inches into the ground.

    Trim large masses of vines so they don’t pull down fences.

    Lay arches and trellises on the ground and anchor with rope.

    Fast-growing, brittle trees should never be planted in hurricane country, no matter how quickly you need shade.

    STRONG TREES

    Gumbo limbo
    Cocoplum
    Cypress
    Dahoon holly
    Geiger tree
    Buttonwood
    Jamaica caper
    Mastic
    Ironwood
    Live oak
    Sand oak
    Red bay
    Red maple
    Cypress
    Sea grape
    Stopper
    Strangler fig

    BRITTLE TREES
    (Consider removing these trees from your yard.)

    Australian pine
    Earleaf acacia
    Ficus (ficus benjamina, weeping fig)
    Bishopwood (Bischofia)
    Carrotwood
    Hong Kong orchid
    Tabebuia
    Laurel oak
    Melaleuca
    Schefflera
    Black olive
    Jacaranda
    Java plum
    Norfolk Island pine
    Royal poinciana
    Silk oak

    STORM-SAFE PALMS

    Cabbage palm (sabal palm)
    Canary Island date palm
    Christmas palm (adonidia)
    Coconut palm
    Florida thatch palm
    Foxtail palm
    Robellini palm (Pygmy date palm)
    Royal palm
    Majesty palm
    Paurotis palm
    Thatch palms

    Note: Queen palms are the exception. They have a very low wind tolerance.

    Atlantic hurricane names

    Published: Thursday, May 19, 2016 @ 4:59 PM
    Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2016 @ 4:59 PM



    When the the winds from these storms reach 39 mph (34 kts), the cyclones are given names. Years ago, an international committee developed names for Atlantic cyclones. In 1979 a six year rotating list of Atlantic storm names was adopted — alternating between male and female hurricane names. Storm names are used to facilitate geographic referencing, for warning services, for legal issues, and to reduce confusion when two or more tropical cyclones occur at the same time. Through a vote of the World Meteorological Organization Region IV Subcommittee, Atlantic cyclone names are retired usually when hurricanes result in substantial damage or death or for other special circumstances. The names assigned for the period between 2016 and 2020 are shown below.

    Names for Atlantic Basin Tropical Cyclones


    20162017201820192020

    Alex
    Bonnie
    Colin
    Danielle
    Earl
    Fiona
    Gaston
    Hermine
    Ian
    Julia
    Karl
    Lisa
    Matthew
    Nicole
    Otto
    Paula
    Richard
    Shary
    Tobias
    Virginie
    Walter
    Arlene
    Bret
    Cindy
    Don
    Emily
    Franklin
    Gert
    Harvey
    Irma
    Jose
    Katia
    Lee
    Maria
    Nate
    Ophelia
    Philippe
    Rina
    Sean
    Tammy
    Vince
    Whitney
    Alberto
    Beryl
    Chris
    Debby
    Ernesto
    Florence
    Gordon
    Helene
    Isaac
    Joyce
    Kirk
    Leslie
    Michael
    Nadine
    Oscar
    Patty
    Rafael
    Sara
    Tony
    Valerie
    William
    Andrea
    Barry
    Chantal
    Dorian
    Erin
    Fernand
    Gabrielle
    Humberto
    Imelda
    Jerry
    Karen
    Lorenzo
    Melissa
    Nestor
    Olga
    Pablo
    Rebekah
    Sebastien
    Tanya
    Van
    Wendy
    Arthur
    Bertha
    Cristobal
    Dolly
    Edouard
    Fay
    Gonzalo
    Hanna
    Isaias
    Josephine
    Kyle
    Laura
    Marco
    Nana
    Omar
    Paulette
    Rene
    Sally
    Teddy
    Vicky
    Wilfred

    Grills are convenient, but can be dangerous

    Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 10:35 PM
    Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 10:35 PM

    When the power goes out, you may be cooking on a charcoal, propane or natural gas grill, or a hibachi.

    Never leave grill unattended. Keep children away! Don’t grill near leaves, wood or other flammable objects.

    CHARCOAL GRILLS

    Safety first! Grills can kill. Charcoal emits carbon monoxide. It’s odorless and colorless and deadly. Grills emit it even if the lid is on, and they can emit it even if coals appear completely out. After Hurricane Wilma in 2005, a mother in a family of three died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a smoldering grill was left in a kitchen.

    Grill food in a well-ventilated area. NEVER bring a grill inside a home, camper or tent. Do NOT grill in a garage, carport or shed.

    Douse coals with water, stir and douse again. They are out when they are cool to the touch.

    Stock up early. Store in a dry area, away from flame.

    PROPANE GRILLS

    Fill your propane tanks now! Lines will be long once the storm approaches. If you have a big tank, have it filled regularly during the season. If you use small tanks, have two or even three full ones on hand.

    When refilling, have supplier check for dents, damage, rust or leaks. At home, check hoses for leaks, kinks or deterioration.

    If tank appears damaged after a storm, don’t use it.

    Keep propane tanks outside the home, but secure them so they don’t become missiles during the storm.

    Use and store propane cylinders outdoors in an upright position after the storm. Do not store spare tanks close to a hot grill.

    Don’t tamper with supply lines or permanent connections.

    Keep grill lid open until you’re sure it’s lit.

    Always make sure valves and dials are shut tight on both grill and tank. Escaping propane fumes, easy to detect by their strong odor, are deadly to breathe in quantity and can explode. If you smell gas, clear the area and seek help.

    Never smoke around propane!