After the storm: food poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning risks

The severe weather that passed through the region on Friday continues to create health hazards as a result of power outages.  The Northern Kentucky Health Department is reminding people affected by power outages to take steps to protect against food poisoning and carbon monoxide exposure.

"Many people are faced with destruction in the storm's aftermath. Food safety and carbon monoxide poisoning are dangers that often arise in these situations, and so we urge people to be aware of both," said Lynne Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. "Without working refrigerators, perishable food can become unsafe to eat.  Furthermore, the lack of a heat source in this cold weather may result in people attempting to heat their homes with devices not designed to be used indoors.  This could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in the home."

The Health Department advises those affected by power outages to take the following precautions:

Never use a charcoal grill, camp stoves, generators, or other gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal burning device indoors.

Refrigerated foods should be disposed of after four hours without electricity unless the food has been placed in a cooler with ice.

Open refrigerators and freezers only when necessary.  Frozen foods in unopened freezers can generally maintain safe temperatures for up to 24 hours if the freezer is half-full and up to 48 hours if completely full.

A food thermometer can be used to determine the temperature of food items to be sure they are safe.  Perishable food that is above 41 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded.

When in doubt, dispose of perishable foods to prevent illness.

For more information on food safety during power outages and carbon monoxide poisoning, please visit

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