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What to do during a power outage

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Listen for media reports and watch for notifications from Public Health during a power outage. In Oxford County, emergency updates can be found on radio on Heart FM 104.7, CKOT Easy 101, Greatest Hits 103.9 FM, Hope FM 94.3, and on the websites and Twitter pages for the Woodstock Sentinel Review and the Tillsonburg News.

Your emergency planning should identify a “person-in-charge” who will be responsible managing the emergency situation and ensuring ongoing compliance with safety requirements.

Instructions for refrigerated foods

  • A refrigerator without power will keep food cold for 4-6 hours as long as the door remains closed. The length of time depends on the temperature of the room and the temperature of the fridge before the power outage.
  • In a power outage, immediately:
  • Record the time the power outage began
  • Add ice to the refrigerators to maximize the time the food stays cold.
  • Minimize how many times you open the refrigerator door.
  • Start planning how you will move refrigerated foods to a refrigerated truck, portable coolers, or other location with power if the outage continues.
What to throw away: Discard any refrigerated, potentially hazardous (perishable) foods that have been stored above 4°C/40°F for more than 2 hours. See the What do I Save and What do I Throw Away When the Power is Out fact sheet.

Instructions for frozen foods

A full freezer will keep food frozen about 2 days if the freezer is kept closed. A half-loaded freezer will keep food frozen about half a day if the freezer is left closed.

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Keep freezers closed.
  • Add ice to the freezer and add additional insulation, such as covering the freezer with blankets to help keep the food frozen longer.
  • Start planning how you will relocate frozen food to a freezer truck or alternate location with power.

Thawing food: Potentially hazardous (perishable) foods that have thawed, but are still at a temperature below 4°C/40°F, can be safely cooked and eaten or cooked and refrozen.

Refreezing partially thawed foods: As a general rule, if there are ice crystals in the food and no obvious signs of spoilage, then it's safe to quickly refreeze. Do not refreeze thawed ready-to-eat foods.

What to throw away: Any food that has completely thawed and has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours or an unknown period of time must be discarded.

Cooking

In a power outage, immediately: 

  • Check the mechanical ventilation. Discontinue any interior cooking that produces steam, smoke and grease laden vapours if there is no back up for mechanical ventilation.
  • Discard potentially hazardous (perishable) foods that were in the cooking process but did not reach a safe final cooking temperature, unless cooking can be completed immediately using an alternate method.
  • Start planning how you will obtain an alternate heat source for cooking. Note: Never use charcoal or gas barbecues or propane fueled appliances indoors.

Hot holding

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Record the time the power outage began and monitor and monitor hot holding temperatures hourly.
  • Start planning how you will obtain an alternate heat source for hot holding.

What to throw away: Discard all potentially hazardous foods that have been in the food safety “danger zone,” below 60°C/140°F, for more than 2 hours.


Utensil Washing

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Use single-service tableware if utensils can not be adequately washed and sanitized.
  • Use the 3-compartment sink method for manual dishwashing. Refer to the Dishwashing – "three sink method" poster for guidance.

Lighting

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Restrict activities to those that can be safely conducted in natural light whenever possible.
  • Start planning how you will provide an alternate sources of lighting. Candles are NOT recommended; use flashlights instead.

Hot Water

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Heat small amounts of water on a natural gas or propane appliance. Note: Never use charcoal or gas barbecues or propane fueled appliances indoors.
  • Exercise caution when boiling water around young children. Boil water on the back burners of your stove to keep it farther from children’s reach.
  • Wait for boiled water to cool to at least 49°C/120°F before allowing it to touch a child’s skin.

Air Conditioning

Heat-related illnesses can develop within a short period of time when exposed to extreme heat.

In a power outage in the summer, immediately:

  • Have drinking water available for all children.
  • Keep shades drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your facility.
  • Start planning how you will monitor children for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Cool children with a cool bath, shower or cool down with cool, wet towels.

Refer to the Heat alert guidelines fact sheet.

Heating systems

In a power outage in cold temperatures, immediately:

  • Conserve body heat by dressing warmly in layers and using blankets.
  • Start planning how you will locate an alternate heat source.
  • Consider creating an emergency heated area within your facility.

Well pump (if applicable)

In a power outage, immediately:

Sewage Pump (if applicable)

In a power outage, immediately:

  • Discontinue all operations. If the sewage pump is not functional, continuing to use water in the facility will back up sewage into the lowest fixtures. Contact Oxford County Public Health for assistance.


Adapted from Middlesex-London Health Unit


Quick Reference

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Local emergency updates are on radio on Heart FM 104.7, CKOT Easy 101, Greatest Hits 103.9 FM, Hope FM 94.3, and on Twitter pages for the Woodstock Sentinel Review and the Tillsonburg News.