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Hurricane Safety Resources

en Español

Food | Water | Pets | Drugs Exposed to Water | Insulin Storage/Switching | Medical Devices | Vaccines, Blood, Biologics | Find more information

Floods, huricanes, and power outagesThe FDA reminds consumers to take precautions for storing water and ensuring the safety of their food and medical supplies for themselves, their families, and their pets during and after any hurricane-related rain, possible flooding and power outages.

In general, FDA encourages consumers to:

Food

  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth and similar containers that have been water-damaged.
  • Discard food and beverage containers with screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops and home canned foods, if they have come in contact with flood water. These containers cannot be disinfected.
  • Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0 °F and the refrigerator is at or below 40 °F.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

For more information, see

Water

  • Area health departments will determine whether local tap water can be used for drinking. If the water cannot be used or is questionable, and bottled water is not available, then use the directions in the next bullet to purify it.
  • Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool and store it in clean containers with covers.
    • If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
    • If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.
    • If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.

For more information on keeping food and water safe during a hurricane and flooding check our emergency page here. You can also find additional instructions on disinfecting drinking water during an emergency on the EPA’s website.

Pets

  • If you have to leave your home, take your pet with you if at all possible. You are the best person to take care of your pet.
  • Pets should be contained in a carrier or on a leash.
  • Emergencies can make pets display unexpected or uncharacteristic behaviors. It may take several weeks before your pet’s behavior is back to normal.
  • Allow your pet plenty of time to rest and get used to new surroundings. Provide familiar toys, if possible.

For more information see:

Drugs Exposed to Water

  • Drugs exposed to flood or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated. This contamination may lead to serious health effects. Drugs exposed to unsafe water should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Drugs–even those in their original containers with screw-top caps, snap lids, or droppers –should be discarded if they came into contact with flood or contaminated water. In addition, medicines placed in other storage containers should be discarded if the medicines came in contact with flood or contaminated water.
  • If a drug is needed to treat a life-threatening condition, but a replacement may not be readily available, if the drug looks unchanged - for example, pills in a wet container appear dry - the drugs can be used until a replacement is available. If the pills are wet, then they are contaminated and need to be discarded.

For more information, see Safe Drug Use After a Natural Disaster (en Español).

 

Insulin Storage in an Emergency

  • It is recommended that insulin be stored in a refrigerator at approximately 36°F to 46°F. Unopened and stored in this manner, these products maintain potency until the expiration date on the package.
  • Insulin products contained in vials or cartridges supplied by the manufacturers (opened or unopened) may be left unrefrigerated at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F for up to 28 days.
  • Insulin loses some effectiveness when exposed to extreme temperatures. The longer the exposure to extreme temperatures, the less effective the insulin becomes. This can result in loss of blood glucose control over time. Under emergency conditions, you might still need to use insulin that has been stored above 86°F.
  • You should try to keep insulin as cool as possible. If you are using ice, avoid freezing the insulin. Do not use insulin that has been frozen. Keep insulin away from direct heat and out of direct sunlight.
  • When properly stored insulin becomes available again, the insulin vials that have been exposed to these extreme conditions should be discarded and replaced as soon as possible.

For more information see Information Regarding Insulin Storage and Switching Between Products in an Emergency (en Español).

Medical Devices

  • Keep your device and supplies clean and dry.
  • If you depend on your device to keep you alive, seek emergency services immediately. If possible, notify your local Public Health Authority to request evacuation prior to adverse weather events.
  • If you have a device that depends on electricity, you should know how to maintain function in the event of a loss of power

For more information, FDA Offers Tips about Medical Devices and Hurricane Disasters.

 Vaccines, Blood, Biologics

  • If the power goes out, make note of the time and do not open refrigerators and freezers until power has been restored.
  • When the power is restored, if possible, determine the temperature in the refrigerator or freezer before the temperature starts to go back down.
  • If the power outage continues, consider removing products from the refrigerator or freezer and packing them in ice or dry ice as appropriate.
  • If contact with flood water occurs, the product should be considered contaminated and should not be used.

For more information, see Impact of Severe Weather Conditions on Biological Products (en Español).

For more hurricane preparedness information:

 

Page Last Updated: 09/18/2017
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