Cooking and eating habits must change to fit the situation during a power failure. You may have no heat, no refrigeration, and limited water. In addition, health risks from contaminated or spoiled foods may increase. Follow these instructions when preparing food during a power outage.
Choose foods that cook quickly if you have limited heat for cooking. Prepare casseroles and one-dish meals or serve no-cook foods.
Alternate cooking methods:
- Fireplace - You can cook on skewers; wrap food in foil and place in the hot coals, cook on a wire grill over the flames; or you can cook over the flames in heavy cookware such as cast iron or heavy aluminum. A Dutch oven is probably the best piece of cookware, because it can be used for baking, boiling, stewing or pan frying.
- Outdoor Grills - Foods can be cooked on outdoor grills, but use the grills outside. Do not use them in a closed area, not even a garage.
- Fuel-burning Camp Stoves or Charcoal Burners - Use these cookers outdoors only. Fumes from these can be deadly.
- Substitute liquids from canned vegetables for water in cooked dishes. (These liquids should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours.)
- Drain and save juices from canned fruits in refrigerator. Substitute these for water in salads and beverages.
- Boil (for at least 10 minutes) water used in food preparation.
- If you are without refrigeration, open only enough food for one meal.
Cooked vegetables, meat and meat dishes should not be left un-refrigerated for more than two hours, including preparation and serving time. Do not keep these dishes overnight without refrigeration.
If necessary, substitute canned or powdered milk for fresh milk. Canned milk keeps safely for no more than two hours after the can is opened. If you are using canned milk to feed a baby, however, open a fresh can for each bottle. Use only boiled or disinfected water to mix powdered milk. Use powdered milk immediately after it is mixed. If safe water or water-disinfecting materials are not available, use canned or boiled fruit juices instead of water. Prepare and eat foods in their original containers if possible. This will help if dishwashing facilities are limited.
- Individual needs vay, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
- Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
- Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
- A medical emergency might require additional water.
If you are preparing your own containers of water It is recommended you purchase food-grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage. If you choose to use your own containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles - not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.