PETERBOROUGH-Peterborough Public Health strongly advises residents to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves and others as the community recovers from the severe storm that hit the area yesterday.
Officials say the resulting power outages and debris clean up may last for several days posing particular risks regarding food and water safety for both rural and urban residents.
Household Food safety
Keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much and for as long as possible. A household fridge that is left closed will typically keep food cold for only 12 to 24 hours. After this period, some food will begin to spoil and other food will be unsafe to eat. Food that is unsafe may not show any signs of spoilage. Hazardous foods such as milk, deli meats, and other dairy and meat products should be discarded to prevent food borne illness. Throw out any food items that appear to be discoloured or do not smell normal.
A freezer (chest or fridge-freezer combo) will keep food frozen for one to two days if it remains closed. Throw out any thawed food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours. If food has been partially thawed, it can be safely refrozen. The quality of the food item may be affected, but the food will still be safe to consume if it has only been partially thawed.
Consider transferring hazardous food items from the refrigerator to a cooler with ice, replace the ice frequently to keep food cold (ideally at 4°C or 40°F).
Household Recreational Water Safety
If you have a pool or hot tub, there could be increased challenges with pool/hot tub operation and safety if recirculation systems are not working. Contact a recreational water professional for more information about after-care once the power comes back on. During the power outage, avoid swimming in the pool to prevent waterborne illnesses due to insufficient pool water treatment. If the water is cloudy, do not swim as this can cause an increased risk for accidental drowning.
Residents on Wells and Septic Systems
Many rural residents and some in urban areas obtain their water from a well and their property may be serviced by an onsite sewage system. Power outages can affect treatment units for both water and sewage systems as well as any pumps associated with those systems. Use bottled water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth and any other activities that involve the direct consumption of water. When the power is restored, verify that any filters and treatment devices have resumed normal operation and flush your plumbing system to remove any untreated water by running the water for several minutes through all plumbing fixtures. As a precaution, collect a water sample as soon as possible once the power has been restored.
If you do not have water due to a pump failure, find an alternate source of water, and continue to use an alternate source until you can sample your water once the power comes back on. Use bottled water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth and any other activities that involve the direct consumption of water.
If you are on a septic system, limit the amount of wastewater that you are generating. If your sewage cannot be pumped to the leaching bed, your tank may fill up and backup into the house or discharge to the ground. In the event you have a sewage backup into your home or you observe breakout of sewage onto your property, call a sewage hauler and immediately pump your septic tank.
f you live in a rural area, you may obtain your water from a well and your property may be serviced by an onsite sewage system.
Avoid cooking indoors with equipment that expels carbon monoxide such as camp stoves and charcoal grills. These items should only be used outdoors and away from windows.
Do not use gas stoves unless there is proper electric ventilation working as these stoves also emit carbon monoxide.
Ensure smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices in your home have batteries to make sure they are working in the event of an emergency.
Portable generators should only be used outdoors, in a well-ventilated area away from windows and fresh air intakes. Do not connect a generator to your electrical panel directly unless this has been previously set up by a qualified electrician.
Use caution when driving. Many street lights and traffic signals are out. Intersections need to be treated as four-way stops and pedestrians have the right of way. Drive slowly, as with no street lights it will be difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists and other obstacles or hazards in the road. Many roads are closed due to fallen trees and wires, so be prepared to take alternate routes to your destination.
It is safest to walk during daylight hours. If you have to walk after dark, bring a flash light and wear bright coloured clothing so that you can be seen.
For further public health and safety updates, please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.
ca and www.peterborough.ca.