What to toss, what's safe after power's out

BENSALEM, PA.; Nov. 1, 2012

Tom Ryan lives in Brigantine, N.J.

Tom and his family, including his father-in-law, a World War 2 veteran came to stay with his cousin Janet in Bensalem during the storm

Now, Tom's family is keeping warm by fireplace because Janet hasnt had power since Monday.

"We've been working things out," says Janet.

They have a small cooler with essentials, and non-perishable food. But as for food in refrigerator -

"All going to get thrown out," says Janet.

Neighbors are doing the same. U.S. Dept of Agriculture safety experts say if you are without power 4 hours, most food in fridge should be discarded.

But there are some exceptions, such as hard cheeses, processed cheeses, butter, margarine, and opened fruit juices. They can withstand being above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. Vinegar-based salad dressings are also OK, but throw out any creamy ones.

Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles, Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, and hoisin sauces should also be safe, according to the USDA.

Frozen food can last 24 hours if the freezer is half-full, 48 hours if it is full.

Also, any food exposed to flood water should be thrown out, even cans unless they are thoroughly cleaned, and the labels removed.

For guidance, see 'what to keep in refrigerated food' and 'what to keep in frozen food'

Tom will have to deal with that when he can go home, he already knows his house is flooded. For now, he's happy everyone is safe.

"As long as we are healthy and our family is OK, don't worry about nothing else," says Tom.

More than half a dozen New Jersey communities, including Atlantic City, Fortescue, and several on Long Beach Island, are under 'boil water' advisories.

If you are doing cleanup of the damage:

* Be sure to wash your hands after touching anything that was in contact with floodwaters.They could carry bacteria that could make you sick.

* Anything that ABSORBED floodwater should be thrown out.

* Items that don't absorb water, such as floors and toys, can be washed with soap and water, then wiped with disinfectant.

* And if you get cut by debris, but can't recall getting a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, see your doctor right away.

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