Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages and Floods

Emergencies can happen. When they do, the best strategy is to already have a plan in place. This includes knowing the proper food and water safety precautions to take when you lose power or flooding occurs.

Page archived as of June 6, 2016

Food Safety and Power Outages

  • If the power is out for LESS THAN 2 HOURS, the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to eat. While the power is out keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This will help to keep the food colder for longer.
  • If the power is out for MORE THAN 2 HOURS , follow the guidelines below:
  • Fight cross-contamination, which is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards or utensils. Never place any type of food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Cooking can be more difficult during a power outage. Remember to thoroughly cook foods to avoid food borne illness:
    • If you have one, use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature. Chicken should be cooked to at least 165F, Ground Meat (such as burgers) to 155F and fish to 145F.

General Advice 

Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled and cooled or disinfected. Hand washing is critical in emergencies to prevent illness.

Make sure you have an adequate supply of safe drinking water. If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths, or allow it to settle and then draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.

For more information on emergency supplies, refer to the CDC Emergency response website

Other Useful Websites

Flooding Information : Alexandria’s low elevation and its proximity to the Potomac River make it susceptible to flooding. City residents should plan for flooding as part of their emergency preparedness planning.

After Storm Cleanup : Strong wind storms can leave behind downed trees and debris throughout the City. Find out how to clean up after a windy storm.

Health Concerns : After a storm has passed, failure to remove contaminated materials from your home can cause health risks; debris and flood waters can cause illness and injuries. Learn important measures for cleaning up.

Food & Water Concerns : Recommendations for keeping water and food safe during a disaster.

A Guide for Consumers : proper food and water safety precautions in the event of flooding and/or power outages.

Protect Yourself from Animal and Insect Related Hazards After a Natural Disaster