By Kelly Bogard

As seen this past week, natural disasters are unpredictable and can turn bad. Fast. From 130+ mile per hour winds to rising water, Mother Nature has been wreaking havoc on South and Southeast Texas. And while there are many families still waiting to go home, there’s always thoughts of food safety in a situation like this.

What can I keep on hand while the power grid is being repaired? How long will cold food last? What can I do to keep my family’s food supply safe? I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but my hope is this list will help.

1. Have shelf-stable food on hand that doesn’t require heating. Things like granola bars and beef jerky. Also, if you have small children, it’s a good idea to have powdered milk.

2. Be sure to have plenty of bottled water on hand. A three-day supply of water is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

3. In a flood situation, keep all food and drinks out of the water. Flood waters are contaminated and can lead to severe illness if ingested.

4. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables in water tight bags to prevent contamination.

5. Have disposable utensils, such as plastic forks and knives, as well as paper plates on hand. If you’re eating canned foods, be sure to have a manual can opener available.

6. In a power outage situation, keep your refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay cold for up to four hours in a closed refrigerator and up 48 hours in a freezer if it is full.

7. If your power is out for more than 4 hours, get rid of any perishable foods, like dairy and meat proteins, in your refrigerator once power is restored. Most condiments and unopened juices will be fine with the exception of mayonnaise.

8. You can refreeze foods from the freezer as long as they still have ice crystals on them. Otherwise, they should be disposed of as well.

9. Any food items that get wet and are in cardboard containers, including baby formula, should be disposed of.

10. Never taste food to see if it’s okay. If it doesn’t look or smell right, get rid of it.

Food safety is important, not only in the production of food, but also once it reaches our homes and families. Our hearts are with those affected by Hurricane Harvey. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the city or the country, we are Texans. And we stand together. From all of us at Texas Table Top, stay strong.