Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Do you know how to handle a power failure?

The disaster that Sandy brought to the East Coast reminds us that we need prepare for disasters and their inevitable consequences. For example, do you know how to handle a power failure?
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) offers these tips to help you prepare for and cope with sudden loss of power:
Food Safety
If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below:
·         For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
·         For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
·         Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safe Drinking Water
When power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning fully. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Your state, local, or tribal health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area. Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. Remember:
·         Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added.
·         If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
·         Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms.
·         If you don’t have clean, safe, bottled water and if boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets. These can kill most harmful organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. However, only chlorine dioxide tablets are effective in controlling more resistant organisms, such as the parasite Cryptosporidium.
Extreme Heat
Be aware of yours and others’ risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and fainting. To avoid heat stress, you should:
·         Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes and at least one gallon each day.
o    Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They both dehydrate the body.
·         Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
·         Take frequent cool showers or baths.
·         If you feel dizzy, weak, or overheated, go to a cool place. Sit or lie down, drink water, and wash your face with cool water. If you don't feel better soon, get medical help quickly.
·         Work during cooler hours of the day when possible, or distribute the workload evenly throughout the day.
Extreme Cold
Hypothermia happens when a person’s core body temperature is lower than 35°C (95°F). Hypothermia has three levels: acute, subacute, or chronic. To prevent hypothermia:
·         Everyone, especially the elderly and ill, should have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and sources of heat.
·         Blankets can help, even in poorly heated rooms.
·         In cold weather, wear layers of clothing and a hat, which help to keep in body heat.
·         Move around. Physical activity raises body temperature.
For more information and guidelines visit the CDC website.

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