Recovery Efforts

Keep These Health and Safety Tips Top of Mind as You Recover from Hurricane Ian

Use caution with generators, food and candles as you wait for the power to come back.

By Megan McDonald September 29, 2022

As Sarasota-Manatee residents continue to recover from Hurricane Ian, there are important safety measures to keep in mind for you and your family—particularly related to generators, food and candles. Here are tips for staying healthy and safe as you wait for the power to come back on, courtesy of Sarasota County.

Generator Safety

Carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper generator use can cause sudden illness or death. Keep these tips in mind whenever you use a generator:

  • Always operate your generator outdoors, never indoors or in a garage.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.
  • Store generator fuel in a safe, risk-free area.
  • Keep items plugged into a generator to a minimum.
  • Use a heavy-gauge power cord with your generator (10- or 8-gauge cord or heavier).

Food Safety

The Department of Health says that individuals should not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges

Do not eat commercially prepared cans of food if there is a bulging or opening on the can or the screw caps, soda bottle tops or twist-caps.

You can save undamaged, commercially canned foods if you remove the labels and disinfect the cans in a bleach solution. Use 1/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water; re-label the cans and include expiration date and type of food.

Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.

Infants should be fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Use boiled water when preparing formula.

Frozen and refrigerated foods can be unsafe after a hurricane. When the power is out, refrigerators will keep foods cool for only about four hours. Thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after four hours.

Candle Safety

Until the power comes back on, remember that using battery-powered lanterns and flashlights is preferable to using candles. If you must use candles, make sure you put them in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood and other flammable items.

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