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Prepare your kitchen for a power outage

July 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
High winds, a power overload, an earthquake -- any of these events could cause Californians to lose electricity. No matter what the cause, making a meal can be tough without an oven, microwave or other appliances.Here is how to prepare the kitchen for the next outage:

First, stock up. Do not wait to make a run to the market when there is little left. Items with a long shelf life, such as canned beans, tuna, chicken, fruits and vegetables can be used to make some decent meals in a pinch as long as your can opener is not electric. Your kitchen should have a manual can opener, a whisk, a potato masher and a mortar and pestle to work with food. Even a martini shaker can act as a makeshift blender.

In addition, you want to stock up on drinking water. Water is needed for everything from washing produce to filling your pet's drinking bowl. A person requires an average of 14 gallons per day. However, store the water in different areas of the house in case an emergency prevents you from getting to certain parts of the house.

If you have a grill that uses propane, it is a good time to use eggs and any meats that are not going to last without refrigeration.

The magic number for refrigerated or perishable foods to stay safe is 40 degrees or below. However, keeping the freezer shut can protect frozen food. A full freezer can stay safe for two days if unopened, while a freezer that is half-full may only last one day.

Going in and out of a powerless fridge means spoilage in as little as two to four hours. Get what you need and then keep the fridge shut. When power returns, wait until your fridge cools below 40 degrees before restocking.

The safest option is to have two coolers with ice and thermometers. One cooler can hold easily consumed family favorites while the other one protects foods to eat later. Remember, food is unsafe to eat two hours after it is held above 40 degrees. When in doubt, throw it out.

 

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