Disaster Preparedness Frequently Asked Questions

1. Question: Is the ice in the ice machine safe?


If you turned off the ice machine before the hurricane, the ice should be safe.  Ice machines that were not turned off should be drained or remove ice and cleaned with a mild sanitizing solution of chlorine and water. Pipes and tubes must also be cleaned.

2. Question: Can I re-open my restaurant, once the hurricane is over?


(See attached guidelines for re-opening). *You must contact the Division of Environmental Health, before re-opening.

3. Question: How long is food safe in my refrigerator once power is lost?


6 hours, provided the door remains closed most of the time. (12 hours in the freezer).  Check the temperature of the food, if over 40°F for 2 hours, discard, if 40°F or below cook or refreeze.

4. Question:

I don't know how long the power was out, what should I do with the food in the refrigerator?


Don't rely on the odor or appearance.  Never taste food to determine its safety.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature.  When in doubt, throw it out!

5. Question:

The power was only out for 1-hour and the temperature of the refrigerated food is 50°F, what can I do?


Cook immediately and eat or freeze. Partially thawed frozen food with ice crystals may be re-frozen.

6. Question: What can I do to wash my hands if no hot water is available?


Wash with soap & cold water and use rubbing alcohol afterwards or a chlorine dip. (1 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water).  Hand sanitizers may be used also, but only after washing with soap and water.

7. Question: Any other precautions that I need to take before preparing food?


Do not handle food if you have cuts, sores, or open wounds on your hands or fingers.  If you are coughing, sneezing, or have a runny nose, you should not handle food.

8. Question: What if I use plastic gloves?


Plastic gloves are recommended, but this does not eliminate the necessity for proper hand washing.  Hands must be washed before and after gloves are used. Gloves must be changed often.

9. Question: Can I use the water for preparing infant formula?


Use only pre-prepared canned baby formula until you are notified that the water is safe to drink.

10. Question: Is it safe for children to play in floodwaters?


No! Floodwaters can be contaminated with industrial waste, chemicals, or sewage.  Also, do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood waters.

11. Question: Once the power returns, how soon can I restock by refrigerator?

Answer: Wait until the refrigerator temperature reaches 40°F.



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