For many, it has been seven days since Hurricane Sandy hit and the refrigerators and freezers were powered on.
Residents who finally had their power restored now face the task of cleaning up homes and yards, and cleaning out the old and thawed out food from the fridge.
The Westchester County Health Department is telling residents to throw out any food/condiments that have been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours or more.
"In most cases, this means you should empty out, clean and sanitize your refrigerator and freezer to prevent bacteria from growing," the health department's statement said.
Before residents eat that food still in the fridge, read these tips.
“Throw away meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, mayonnaise, leftovers and any condiments that require refrigeration,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health. “Remember to clear out the thawed-out food in your freezer as well. This may be costly and one more item on a long to-do list, but it’s vital for your family’s health and safety.’’
The Health Department issued the following tips:
- Throw away any food (including packaged food) that was touched by flood water. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Inspect canned food and throw away any food in damaged cans.
- Frozen foods that thawed should be cooked and consumed prior to reaching 41 degrees for more than 4 hours, or be discarded.
The Health Department notes that those living in Westchester have public water supplies, and the water is safe to drink. Just run the faucet for a minute before using the water, the department states.
And for the residents who had flooding at their homes, and are handling contaminated debris, be sure to wear protective gloves and clothing and avoid skin contact with the flood water.
If you get cut or injured doing cleanup, head to the ER or your doctor–you may need a Tetanus vaccine or booster shot.