The ice storms in the state over Thanksgiving week left a significant number of Oklahomans without power for hours and even days. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds those affected by a power outage to be mindful of safe practices to prevent illness and injury.
OSDH recommends the following guidelines for refrigerated and frozen foods to citizens or food establishments which have been without power for more than four hours:
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Discard any potentially hazardous foods such as meats, eggs, dairy products and leftovers when the power has been off for more than four hours. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Frozen foods in a freezer can normally be kept up to 48 hours without power. A frozen product that has thawed should not be refrozen – it should be used immediately or thrown away.
Residents in rural areas may also be without water during a power outage. If the safety of the water is not known, it is recommended to vigorously boil the water for at least one minute to prevent potential waterborne illnesses. Safe water would include store-bought bottled water or uninterrupted city water. Untreated water should not be used to prepare foods, wash hands or brush teeth.
It’s important to use caution when heating a home with a fireplace, space heater or wood stove, using them only when they are properly vented. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or similar devices inside the house, in basements, in garages or near windows. Don’t use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat your home. Improper use of such devices can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.