Emergency Practices: When the Power goes off; Food

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North Dakota State University Extension Service has a useful document - Handling food when the power goes off


-- cynthia (cabeal@efn.org), December 27, 1998


I consider the rules I saw about not eating certain foods that have been unrefrigerated for two hours to be somewhat conservative. I say this as one who has lived long enough to remember living without electricity (and with the nearest road three miles away for my first six years). Of course my immune system may be be stronger because of it.

One thing I remember is evaporative food coolers, which some of you may have seen. Start with a set of shelves separate from walls (or possibly make a hanging set with ropes and boards). Drape an old sheet or curtain (preferably cotton, we used to used burlap, but it may be hard to find today) completely around it, that will reach from top to bottom and a bit more, so that the edges are in front and can be pulled aside. Put a large pan of water on the top shelf. Put the upper end of the sheet in the water, from all sides of the shelves. Probably thumbtack it to the top shelf. Probably use a wet sheet to start with, which will help to get a "capillary siphon" started, to keep the whole sheet wet. Put it outside in the shade, maybe on a porch. Place food on lower shelves. Keep it supplied with water. Be creative and use whatever "field expediency" you need. I think the idea is that it won't mildew as long as relatively dry air circulates around it. But it will keep food cooler (maybe 10 degrees cooler) than ambient temperature, depending on the ambient humidity. I've heard as a rule of thumb that chemical reaction doubles when temperature is dropped 10 degrees. I don't know if the same applies to biological activity. Of course the first couple of months of Y2K will be cool already and you may not need this right away.

Dan Robinson 541-465-4790 350 Pearl St. #1105 danrob@efn.org Eugene OR 97401 www.efn.org/~danrob/

Be here now; observe the past; create the future. Only these are needed; only these are possible.

-- Dan Robinson (danrob@efn.org), January 16, 1999.

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