AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Human Services has provided safety standards for food, drinking water, carbon monoxide poisoning and infectious diseases, to help Maine people during the power outage.
Foods of particular concern include meats, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy items, and leftovers or opened foods that should be refrigerated after opening. If the foods are warm to the touch and there is a question if they smell right, they should be disposed of.
Refrigerated foods kept cold outside the home should be kept at 40 degrees or lower. Frozen foods that are discolored or defrosted should be thrown out. Fruits, vegetables and breads may be refrozen or eaten if thawed.
All food should be cooked to 165 degrees, and good hand-washing practice should be observed.
Drinking water sources such as snow or ice should be boiled for five minutes, especially if used to prepare baby formula. Water in water heaters or boilers is not safe to drink.
Carbon monoxide risk is high around generators, which should be outdoors and well-ventilated. Kerosene heaters should have the correct grade K-1 fuel, and rooms should be ventilated by a partly open window.
Charcoal and propane grills should be used only outdoors.
Crowded living conditions and lack of electric power make infectious disease prevention especially important. Frequent hand-washing should be done and drinking glasses or eating utensils should not be shared. The elderly and chronically ill should have flu shots.
For information on health concerns during the power outage, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 800-535-4555 or the Maine Bureau of Health at 287-8016.