Prepare Kansas

Category: Week 3

After a power outage

September is National Preparedness Month. It is also our annual Prepare Kansas online challenge. Prepare Kansas 2019 will provide tips on keeping food safe in emergency situations. Kansans and anyone interested in planning ahead for emergencies can follow the K-State Research and Extension Facebook page and this blog at any time during September, pick up handy information and interact with K-State extension specialists and agents. No registration is required. Today’s post is written by Londa Nwadike, State Extension Consumer Food Safety Specialist for Kansas and Missouri.

Once your power has returned and you have breathed a huge sigh of relief, now it is time to assess if your refrigerated and frozen foods are safe to keep or not.   The first thing to remember is that you should NEVER taste food to determine if it is safe to eat as you could get sick from consuming potentially contaminated food.  And even if food does taste okay, it could still make you sick.  However, if you do notice that the food has an unusual color, odor, or texture, you should throw it out as it more likely contains organisms that can make you sick.  Another general rule of thumb for food safety in any situation is “when in doubt, throw it out”.  We do not advocate wasting food unnecessarily (see for example a KSU fact sheet on what food product dates really mean and our Food Waste website) , but the cost of throwing away questionable food is far less than the potential cost of someone getting sick or dying from eating contaminated food.

If your refrigerator has been without power for more than 4 hours, if your food has not been on ice and if your refrigerator thermometer is reading more than 40F, there are a number of foods that would not be safe to keep as microorgansims that can make you sick could have been growing to dangerous levels while the food was over 40F.  A complete list is available from this USDA publication, but some of the key foods that should be thrown out of the refrigerator if the power was out for more than 4 hours include:

  • meat, poultry, fish, and eggs;
  • luncheon meat and hot dogs;
  • casseroles, soups, and pizza;
  • milk, yogurt, sour cream, and soft cheeses; and
  • cooked or cut/peeled fruits and vegetables.

Also, discard any foods such as bread that may have been contaminated by juices dripping from raw meat, poultry, or fish.

A complete list of foods safe to keep is included in the previously mentioned USDA publication, but in general, foods not included in the list above would be safe.

Many of the same rules that apply to evaluating foods in your refrigerator also apply to foods in your freezer, including “When in doubt, throw it out” and never taste food to determine its safety.  The following foods are safe to eat after the power returns to your freezer:

  • frozen foods that have thawed, but still contain ice crystals
  • foods that have remained below 40F (check your freezer thermometer). They may be safely refrozen, although their quality may suffer.
  • foods that don’t actually need to be frozen for safety, such as dried fruits, hard cheeses, and nuts.

It is Always a Good Day to #GetPrepared

The 2018 K-State Research and Extension #PrepareKansas challenge has concluded. Did you #GetPrepared? It is never too late to take actions to prepare ahead of an emergency or disaster. Click the links below for information you and your family can use to #PrepareNow.

“Check Your Insurance Coverage” was the theme for Week 3. Challenge tasks include:

“Save for an Emergency” was the theme for Week 4. Challenge tasks include:

When it comes to emergency savings, only about half of all Americans have an emergency fund. This gives them the money needed to help with increased expenses after a disaster. What will you do if there is a disaster? To get started, consider setting aside a small amount from each paycheck to go into a savings account. Small amounts do add up over time! Go a step further and take the Kansas Saves pledge and start saving automatically.

Disasters happen. Time spent planning, preparing, and practicing now can to help you and your family after a disaster strikes. Click here for the complete list of this year’s challenge tasks.

Disasters Happen: Check Your Coverage

Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.

Insurance if your first line of defense when it comes to recovering from a disaster. Check your coverage and take photos of important documents and personal belongings to help you quickly file a claim after an event. In this video, Kylie Ludwig from Wildcat Extension District, explains how to start get started.

#PrepareKansas – Week 3, Creating a Financial Grab-and-Go Kit

September is National Preparedness Month. It is also our annual Prepare Kansas online challenge. Prepare Kansas 2017 will provide tips on getting financially prepared ahead of disasters and emergencies. This year’s program will be conducted through the K-State Research and Extension Facebook page. No registration is required, so Kansans and anyone interested in planning ahead for emergencies can follow on Facebook and this blog at any time during September, pick up handy information and interact with K-State extension specialists and agents. Today’s post is written by Elizabeth Kiss, Family Resource Management Specialist.

If you had a few precious minutes to leave your home or office, what would you take? This week’s challenge is to create a financial grab-and-go kit.

Why is this important? If you have your most important documents and information at hand in a grab-and-go kit, it can help to get you back on firm financial footing more quickly.

Your kit should be a waterproof, fireproof container that can be taken with you at a moment’s notice. Be sure to keep it in a secure place in your home.

What should you include in your kit? At a minimum you’ll want to have some cash and the financial information and personal identification needed to conduct your day-to-day financial life.

Other information to include in your grab-and-go kit:

  • Personal information such as copies of driver’s licenses, passport, and social security cards and key documents that may be needed to restore your financial records
  • Account information such as financial account numbers; copies of ATM, debit, and credit cards; insurance cards, policies, or other proof of insurance coverage; and contact information for all financial service and insurance providers
  • Household inventory
  • Safe deposit key
  • Information about prescription medication
  • Contact information (phone, email, or web site) for family members, doctors, veterinarians
  • Pocket notebook and pen or pencil

Family records, such as birth, marriage, or death certificates may be kept in a safe deposit box. If they are, consider making copies for your grab-and-go box. Other items that may be in safe deposit box include wills, contracts, deeds, stocks, and bond as well as titles to vehicles. Again, if the original is in a safe deposit box, you still may want to make copies for your grab-and-go box.

Want to learn more? Download this fact sheet from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore