For those without power or affected by flooding, snow or wind damage—or for those worried about people in possibly affected areas, read on for some quick tips about contacting friends or family, dealing with power outages, and food safety.
Getting in touch
- Telephone contact: Landlines might be down or overloaded locally, but sometimes long-distance calls can get through better. Update your status with a long-distance friend or family, and let that person spread the word.
- Cell phones: Wireless carriers are recommending that people send text messages, which have a better chance of getting through busy bandwidths, and use less battery power of the person you’re trying to reach.
- If you cannot reach someone in the affected are who may be housebound or evacuated, both the American Red Cross and FEMA provide Internet locators where people in storm areas can register their names to let their loved ones know where they are, and if they are safe:
- American Red Cross (800-RED-CROSS) “Safe and Well”
- For some disasters, FEMA (1-800-621-FEMA) National emergency Family Registry and Locator System
- If you have no heat, dress in layers and especially wear a hat to retain body heat;
- NEVER use generators in poorly ventilated spaces (inside a home, garage, shed,crawl space even with open doors/windows). Deadly carbon monoxide can build up quickly, and linger for hours. Generators must be operated outdoors in a dry place. Also do not use propane heaters indoors.
Refrigerated or frozen foods
- Refrigerated foods will only stay cold about 4 – 6 hours. Some foods can be used at room temperature for a few days (butter, hard cheese, fresh unsliced fruit, vegetables except sprouts).
- A full freezer can maintain temperature (if not opened) for about 48 hours. Frozen foods still containing ice crystals can be cooked or re-frozen. Thawed vegetables should not be eaten. Discard any meat and poultry warmer than 40 degrees for 2 hours, and melted ice cream.
Web Sources for more information:
WEBMD News “Riding out the storm safely” ; National Cancer Institute “Help for Individuals Affected by Catastrophic Events;” USDA “A consumer’sguide to Food safety;“ FEMA tips before, during, after a hurricance ,