Hurricane season is here, from June 1st through November. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages you to review these health and safety resources to help you prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
Floods and power outages from hurricanes can cut off water supplies and quickly contaminate food. Here are some tips to keep in mind before, during, and after a hurricane.
When There Is a Hurricane Warning
Stock up on everything you might need now. Be sure to have these supplies on hand:
- Thermometers in the freezer and refrigerator
- Containers of ice to keep food cold or to melt if water supply is contaminated or unavailable
- Coolers, frozen gel packs, and dry ice to keep refrigerated food at or below 40° F and frozen food at or below 0° F if power is out for more than 4 hours
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable foods stored high on shelves, in case of flooding
- Manual can opener
- Bleach for disinfecting
During a Hurricane
- Keep food at recommended temperatures. Keep in mind that perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs not kept at or below 40° F can make you sick—even if thoroughly cooked.
- Do not eat or drink anything that has touched flood water, including food packed in non-metal containers.
- Discard food and beverage containers with screwcaps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water. These containers cannot be disinfected.
- Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and "retort pouches" (like flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved if you follow the steps listed here: www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods#how.
- Area health departments will determine whether local tap water can be used for drinking. If the water is not potable or is questionable, then follow the directions listed here: www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods#if.
After a Hurricane
In addition to preparing for a hurricane, it's important to take steps to stay safe after a hurricane is over. For example:
- Once power is restored, check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. You can safely eat or refreeze food that was in the freezer if it is below 40° F.
- Discard any perishable food that has been in a refrigerator or freezer at or above 40° F for 2 hours or more. When in doubt, throw it out.
- If water supply is still unsafe, boil water or use bottled water.
The FDA has many resources to help you protect your food and water during hurricanes and other storms, including:
- Food and Water Safety During Power Outages and Floods
- After a Storm or Flooding: Key Tips for Consumers About Food Safety
- Power Outages: Key Tips for Consumers About Food Safety
- Floods: Key Tips for Consumers About Food and Water Safety
For more hurricane safety resources, including information about your pets, emergency medication, and medical supplies, visit: www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/hurricanes-health-and-safety.