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FDA provides tips for food safety during power outages

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Food and Drug Administration is offering tips to prepare you if and when power goes out during an upcoming ice storm.

Local National Weather Service offices have issued an Ice Storm Warning for much of Northern Illinois, including Boone, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties.  This takes effect later today and will last through the overnight hours.

The FDA says knowing proper food safety precautions to take before, during and after a power outage is essential.

Tips include:

Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0° F, and the refrigerator is at or below 40° F.

In case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.

Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.

Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.

Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer. Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.

Purchase or make ice cubes in advance, and freeze gel packs ahead of time. Store all of these in the freezer for future use in the refrigerator or in coolers.

— Check out local sources to know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased, in case it should be needed.

Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding. If your bottled water has an odor, do not drink or use it. Instead, dispose of it, or if applicable, call your bottled water provider to make arrangements to get a replacement.