A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms & Hurricanes


(Updated 06 Dec. 2017)

Map: Courtesy NWS Hurricane Canter
Map: Courtesy NWS Hurricane Canter

Note: This article on the USDA (Dept. of Agriculture) Guide is an edited introduction with key web links. The online full text version is linked here and The linked, illustrated PDF version (2.1MB) is here??

The latter is recommended for printing. It covers:

  • Power Outages
  • Safety of Food in Containers Exposed to Flood Waters
  • Removing Odors from Refrigerators & Freezers
  • Refrigerator Foods
  • Frozen Food
  • Food Safety Contacts for Areas Affected by Severe Storms and Hurricanes

Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food?

Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

The USDA’s Consumer’s Guide will help you make the right decisions for keeping your family safe during an emergency.

View the full, text-only version on line at www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/emergency-preparedness/a-consumers-guide-to-food-safety-severe-storms-and-hurricanes/ct_index

Got Food Safety Questions?

Ask Karen!

The FSIS automated response system can provide food safety information 24/7.

Visit them online at AskKaren.gov

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854)
English & Spanish
10:00-4:00 ET
TTY: 1-800-256-7072


FSIS: USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854); TTY, 1-800-256-7072.

The Hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Consumers can also ask safe food handling questions by logging on to FSIS’ online automated response system called “Ask Karen,” on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Web site: www.fsis.usda.gov

E-mail inquiries can be directed to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov

Additional information about USDA’s food safety efforts can be accessed on the FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Call 1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636, TTY 1-888-232-6348, for information on hazards, safe clean up, and preventing illness and injury.

Available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

FDA: Food and Drug Administration

For information on safe food handling for foods other than meat, poultry, or egg products, call FDA’s toll-free information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or 1-888-723-3366.

FDA emergency number, staffed 24 hours a day, 1-866-300-4374.


Environmental Protection Agency – EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 1-800-426-4791

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Food and Water in an Emergency www.fema.gov

Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness Full Document (PDF – 21Mb)

Emergency Supply List

A comprehensive list of suggested materials to use in order to prepare for emergencies in one’s home and for their families.

General Disaster Assistance Site:


About FSIS

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

2017 Update:

Another online resource for emergency planning is the extensive planning guide, with background on CouponChief.com: https://www.couponchief.com/guides/guide_to_saving_money_on_disaster_preparation