Step 3: Eat Safely, Eat Strategically

Stay Safe While You Cook


  • Before heating food in a can, be sure to open the can and remove the labels. Otherwise, the can may be too hot to handle, the contents might explode, or the label may catch on fire.
  • Never leave open flames unattended. Always put out open flames before leaving the room.
  • Only use charcoal grills or camp stoves outside of your home to avoid smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep Your Hands Clean


  • If soap and running water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gels or baby wipes to clean your hands.
  • Remind your family to always clean their hands before preparing or eating food. This is an important step to keep from getting sick.

Eat Only Safe Foods


  • Before eating, look at and smell food to make sure it has not started to spoil. Never taste foods to decide whether or not they are safe.
  • Eat strategically. If there's a power outage, eat the food in your home in the order that it will start to spoil. If the power has been out no more than 4 hours:
  • First, eat the food in the refrigerator,
  • Inspect canned foods before eating. Throw away cans that that look swollen, dented, or rusty. They may have germs in them that can make you sick, even if you cook the food.
  • Then, eat food from the freezer,
  • Then, start eating food from your emergency supply.
  • Throw out foods that go bad quickly and have been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.