In preparing for the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) reminds Rhode Islanders about several health and safety precautions to take.
Food Safety: If there is a power outage, perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and soft cheeses can start to grow bacteria that could make people sick. If the power is off for more than two hours or the temperature in the refrigerator is above 40°F, perishable foods might spoil.
HEALTH's Office of Food Protection recommends people do the following before a power outage: -Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. - Put a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer. - If your freezer is not full, put containers of water in the freezer. (A full freezer will stay cold for a longer period of time.) - Write down the time that the power goes out. - Avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors. - If the temperature is above 40°F in the refrigerator or freezer, throw away perishable food. - If food in the freezer is between 0°F and 40°F, it can be properly cooked and consumed. - Do not taste food to check if it has spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out! - If you are able to cook on a grill, be sure to have your propane tanks filled and/or charcoal on hand. Only operate grills outside. For information about food safety, visit www.health.ri.gov/programs/foodprotection
People With Medical Devices Requiring Electricity: HEALTH recommends that people with life-sustaining medical equipment requiring electricity (such as a respirator) consider going to a shelter. Those planning to go to a shelter should bring at least a three day supply of medications.
The list of shelters can be found at www.ri.gov/press/view/17752
People who use life-sustaining equipment that need electricity should also contact their electricity provider and inform them of specific needs, if they haven't already done so.
HEALTH also reminds Rhode Islanders with Special Healthcare Needs to enroll in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry either online or by calling 211.
Prescription Medications: People should have several days' worth of prescription medications available. If you are unable to access your regular pharmacy to pick up a prescription, you can call the pharmacy and ask to have the prescription transferred to another pharmacy. Major chain pharmacies can contact any individual pharmacy where a prescription was filled and have the prescription transferred to a pharmacy of the patient's choice.
Generator Safety: If you plan to use a generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to only operate it outdoors. Before operating generators, turn off the main breaker located in your electric service panel