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Q&A: Riding Out the Storm Safely

How to Stay Safe in Hurricane Sandy's Aftermath
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Start by eating leftovers, meat, poultry, and any foods with milk, cream, soft cheese, or sour cream.

If frozen foods still contain ice crystals, they may still be safely cooked and eaten (or re-frozen, if power is restored).

Fruits that were frozen can be eaten if they still taste and smell good.

Vegetables that are completely thawed shouldn't be eaten, since bacteria multiply quickly.

If meat or poultry has thawed and has been warmer than 40 degrees F for two hours, discard it.

Discard melted ice cream.

Some foods typically refrigerated keep at room temperature for a few days. Among them: butter, margarine, hard cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables (except sprouts or fresh, sliced fruit), fruit juice, dried fruits, or coconut. Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressing, jelly, relishes, taco sauce, and barbecue sauce are typically also OK to eat. Mustard, ketchup, and olives generally keep at room temperature for a few days, too.

Q: What about water? If we run out, what supplies can we tap?

Use ice, soft drinks, and fruit juices as water substitutes. Remember that older adults, nursing mothers, and children need more water than others.

Check hidden sources of water: the hot water tank, water in the plumbing, the reservoir toilet tank (not the bowl). These water supplies need to be disinfected, however.

To disinfect by boiling, bring water to a rolling boil for one or two minutes, then cool. If you have no power, disinfect with bleach. Bleach will kill some but not all organisms that could be in the water. Add eight drops to a gallon. Stir, then let stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.

If you have iodine tablets, follow package directions. Be sure their expiration date has not passed.

Q: What precautions do I need to take for medications that need refrigeration, such as insulin or reconstituted drugs?

If power has been out for a lengthy period, thrown them out. However, if you have no way to obtain new supplies and the medicine is crucial, such as insulin, continue to take it until you can get fresh supplies.

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