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Food Safety and Survival After A Disaster or Emergency
Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food? Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will insure you and your families survival incase of a sudden disaster or power outage and, reduce the risk of food borne illness. This guide will provide helpful tips that can help you keep your family and food supply safe during an emergency survival situation or power outage.
Isn't food safe
if it doesn't smell bad? - NO!
Food may not be safe to eat during or after an emergency. Many foodborne illnesses and bacteria can contaminate food, food containers and cooking surfaces. Your survival and your families survival after a disaster means protecting your health.
Flood waters contain raw sewage and other contaminates including dead animals, gasoline and oil, other waste products as well as disease causing organisms. Ironically, in a rush to get a drink of water or eat food, your survival may be threatened. You could actually starve or become so weak and dehydrated due to waterborne illness or foodborne illness that you are no help to yourself or anyone else. Here are some facts about what bacterial contamination can lead to.
Symptoms A range of syndromes, including acute dehydrating diarrhea (cholera), prolonged febrile illness with abdominal symptoms (typhoid fever), acute bloody diarrhea (dysentery), and chronic diarrhea (Brainerd diarrhea).
Common Causes Common agents include Vibrio cholerae, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and the diarrheogenic Escherichia coli.
Risk Level Each year, an estimated 4 billion episodes of diarrhea result in an estimated 2 million deaths, mostly among children. Waterborne bacterial infections may account for as many as half of these episodes and deaths.
Consequences Many deaths among infants and young children are due to dehydration, malnutrition, or other complications of waterborne bacterial infections.
The most commonly recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7, and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, also known as the Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses.
Campylobacter is a bacterial pathogen that causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps
. It is the most
commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the world. These
bacteria live in the intestines of healthy birds, and most raw poultry meat has
Campylobacter on it. Eating undercooked chicken, or other food that has
been contaminated with juices dripping from raw chicken is the most frequent
source of this infection. Anything from the bird population may be contained in
flood waters and get on food and food packaging that have been in flood waters.
Salmonella is also a bacterium that is widespread in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals. The illness it causes, salmonellosis, typically includes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In persons with poor underlying health or weakened immune systems, which may result from your stamina being tested in a survival situation, it can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.
E. coli O157:H7 is a bacterial pathogen that comes cattle and other similar animals. Human illness typically follows consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with microscopic amounts of cow feces. Which may be present in flood waters, concievably in great quantity depending on your location. The illness it causes is often a severe and bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, without much fever. In 3% to 5% of cases, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur several weeks after the initial symptoms. This severe complication includes temporary anemia, profuse bleeding, and kidney failure.
Calicivirus, or Norwalk-like virus is an extremely common cause of foodborne illness, though it is rarely diagnosed, because the laboratory test is not widely available. It causes an acute gastrointestinal illness, usually with more vomiting than diarrhea, that resolves within
two days. Unlike many foodborne pathogens that have animal reservoirs, it is believed that Norwalk-like
viruses spread primarily from one infected person to another. Infected kitchen workers or food preparers can contaminate a salad or sandwich as they prepare it, if they have the virus on their hands. Infected fishermen have contaminated oysters as they harvested them.
This information makes it clear it is important to know when food is safe and when not to eat it and throw it away instead. This also highlights other issues such as washing your hands and cooking and kitchen surfaces when handling food.
Protecting your Food
Other Things you can do to prepare.
Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased. Be very careful with dry ice it can severely injure you if you touch it. Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding. Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Group food together in the freezer—this helps the food stay cold longer.
Use layers of news paper to insulate over food in a chest type deep freezer to keep the cold in if you have to get into the freezer.
Prepare A Supply
Listen to a battery or crank-powered radio or television for instructions during a disaster situation. You will need a
battery or crank powered radio or television. Pay strict attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies. Obey curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
Have a 3 to 5 day supply of food on hand. Canned food that does not require cooking or MREs are good for a backup food supply after a disaster. Looting and rioting may break out after a major disaster, especially near food supplies. Be prepared ahead of time so that you aren't wandering the streets where you or your family could become the target of criminals or other desperate individuals.
Most individuals can live along time with little food. Food is still very important to your survival. Having a survival kit and food ahead of time can greatly increase your chances of survival after a disaster. The extra comfort and less worry that results from preparation won't hurt any of us.