With natural disasters wreaking havoc on us lately (and hurricane season far from over), there have been a lot of concerned pet owners. Keeping your pets safe during a storm is certainly top priority, but what about their food? There are many ways you can maintain emergency pet food safety, even if you lose power for a while, or experience some flooding.
If you live in an area that's been affected by hurricanes recently or in the past, you know preparedness and safety are no joke. Making sure you and your pet have sufficient shelter and clean water are the first important steps to take if a storm is on the way. Getting your furry friend out of “evacuation zones” in a safe and timely matter is usually a good idea. Scrambling out of town at the last minute, just before or once a storm hits, is dangerous and stressful. Avoid the headache worry, and be ready to tackle pet food safety in any situation, with The Original CrockPET Diet.
Items that are helpful to keep on hand are a thermometer (both for the inside of your fridge/freezer and for measuring food) and a cooler. Should the power go out for several hours, you'll need a backup method to keep food cold.nNote that you want your refrigerator (and the items in it) to be 40*F, while the freezer should register a cool 0*F.
If possible, stock up on dry or block ice. You can also freeze several containers or gallon bags of water. This will be helpful in keeping your fridge, freezer or cooler at a proper temperature.
Make sure you have enough food on hand to last your pet through the projected duration of a storm, and for several days afterward. If you are unable to make it to the grocery store, due to flooding or road blocks, you don't want to be left in a tight spot with Spot.
Making an extra batch of The Original CrockPET Diet before the storm hits is a good idea. Just freeze the finished product in individual serving sizes (muffin tins can be a helpful tool to do this). If you are unable to prepare or store extra batches, be sure to have a backup on hand.
While switching your pet’s food under stressful circumstances is not recommended, it beats having a hungry pet. Canned food is usually a better option than dry kibble, as it contains vital moisture, and can be an easier transition for pets used to the CrockPET Diet.
Fill Your Freezer
Once you have enough CrockPET meals to make it through the storm, get some in the freezer. Keep whatever you will need right away (about three days worth) in the fridge, and freeze the rest. The same goes for your food as well. Freeze anything you don't immediately need.
Filling your freezer has multiple benefits. Obviously, any food that is frozen can be kept at a safe temperature for a longer period of time. A full freezer maintains a colder temperature longer than, say, a half full one would. If the door remains shut, a full freezer can maintain foods at a proper temperature for about 48 hours. One that is half full will keep for about 24 hours.
After Power Loss
Once the power goes out, you've got to be smart. If the refrigerator door remains shut, it can keep your pet’s food at a safe 40*F for about four hours.
If, after four hours, power has not returned, it may be time to turn to your cooler for the meals you anticipate needing for the rest of the day or next. Use your thermometer to be sure your cooler maintains that safe temperature.
Continue to check the temperature of your pet’s CrockPET food to make sure it stays as close to 40*F as possible.
Keep or Discard?
Once your power has been restored, or after 48 hours of loss, you can turn your attention to the frozen CrockPET meals in the freezer. If there are still ice crystals on the food, and it feels as cold as (normally) refrigerated items, it's probably still safe. You can either return the food to a properly cooled freezer, or thaw completely and serve.
Frozen food that was moved to a cooler and thawed is safe to use, as long as the cooler has been kept at a safe temperature. If you remove CrockPET food from the freezer and put it in a cooler still frozen, you will likely have a few days to use it if your ice supply holds up. Keep an eye on that thermometer.
If the CrockPET food in your freezer thaws for any reason (open door, extended time period), and is kept at over 50*F for over two hours, you may want to err on the side of caution and toss it. When in doubt, throw it out!
Remember to follow food safety in an emergency for yourself as well. Food-borne illness is a great, quick way to make any stressful situation worse.
Rule number one in a storm: NEVER allow your pet to drink flood water, or any standing stagnant water. Giardia and Leptospirosis are just two of many possible bacterial infections your pet can get from dirty water. Sewage, gasoline and other automobile fluids, are likely to be present, along with who-knows-what.
If flood waters make their way into your home, be ready to take extra precautions, especially for dry or canned pet food.
If you have kept some dry kibble on hand as a backup for your pet, and any part of the bag touched flood water, discard it immediately. Flood water can make people or animals very sick, very fast. As a rule, dry food (for you or your pet) should be kept in watertight containers, off of the ground.
Canned foods are a little safer (as far as last resorts go), if for some reason they get wet. You do need to take some precautions before opening. Carefully inspect each can for damage, including holes, rust or swelling. Remove the label, as it can harbor dirt and bacteria. Wash, wipe and rinse any dirt or debris from the can’s outside. Finally, sterilize the can by boiling in clean water for two minutes, or soaking in a solution of 1Tbs bleach to a gallon of clean water.
No Need to Panic
By remaining calm and taking proper steps to prepare ahead of time will help you and your pet feel more at ease. Pets feed off of our energy and that of their environment, so don't panic!
Overall, it is easiest, and safest for your pet in many ways, to keep The CrockPET Diet on hand for them in any situation. Once you have a plan to keep everyone safe, you can follow these steps to ensure emergency pet food safety. With proper storage and handling, you can keep your furry friend well-fed and safe from illness, even during a severe storm or power outage.