September 23, 2008

What You Need to Know

Is the food from your refrigerator worth getting sick for? Southwest Ohio residents should heed this advice during a power outage: "When in doubt, throw it out."

Here are food-safety tips from local health departments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

- The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed).

- Food may be safely refrozen if it is at 40 degrees or below (use a food thermometer to check).

- Discard perishables such as meat, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.

- If raw food has leaked during thawing, clean and disinfect the areas the food has touched.

Shopping: Local retailers are working to keep shelves stocked after the power outage forced some grocers to replace food that went bad. Shoppers are scrambling for supplies including ice, chain saws, generators, tarps, batteries, rakes and cleaning supplies. Consumers are urged to call ahead to stores before setting out in search of these fast-selling items.

Schools: Most district officials were waiting to see if power returned before making official decisions on whether school will resume today. Food spoilage is a major concern. Bob Mengerink, superintendent of Kettering City Schools, said peanut butter and jelly sandwiches could be the day's fare when school returns.

Insurance claims: The Ohio Department of Insurance had these tips: Check thoroughly for storm damage, document the damage with photos, and when the time comes for repairs, check credentials and beware of unscrupulous contractors. A legitimate tree removal company will never ask for money in advance.

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