Steritech’s free Public Health Information Brief gives you pointers and answers your frequently asked questions regarding how to keep food and facilities safe before and following a hurricane.
New 2016 update includes Zika virus information and mosquito protection tips.
OTHER STORM-RELATED RESOURCES:
Hurricane season is a period of several months, particularly warm weather months, during the year when conditions are conducive for the development of damaging hurricanes in regions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea. In the Pacific, hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, while the Atlantic season is slightly shorter, June 1 to November 30.
Hurricanes can create powerful winds, excessive rains, and storm surges. These natural phenomena can damage structures, cause power outages, create flooding situations, as well as other storm-related issues.
While the following tips can help you prepare for and recover from a hurricane, they are not a replacement for a tested crisis management plan.
A clearly outlined communications plan will keep you and your team functioning as a unit during a hurricane threat. Ensure that you have a contingency plan in place for deciding when to close or offer alternate operations (e.g., limited menu or changed shift schedule) and that all employees know their roles.
Emergency numbers and contact lists should be available for employees and should include:
Emergency preparedness supplies are a good idea to have on hand at all times. Hurricanes may necessitate further emergency supplies. Consider having the following items on hand if a hurricane is forecasted.
In the event that your facility is advised to close, it is important that you, your employees and guests follow evacuation orders to protect your safety. A few additional steps may help you protect your facility and your food in the event of significant storm damage.
One of the biggest dangers in a hurricane is the loss of power and how it affects food storage. Many Time/Temperature Control for Safety Foods (TCS Foods) may need to be destroyed if they go out of temperature range. Temperature abused foods can grow harmful bacteria and spoil, putting people at risk for foodborne illness.
Flood water has the potential to significantly damage facilities, but it is also a significant food safety hazard. All flood water has the potential to be contaminated with sewage and agricultural waste. Therefore, if your facility has had flooding, even minor, take the following precautions.
A clean water supply and sufficient plumbing are necessary for any food operation to conduct business. While your local health authority will have the most up-to-date information, the following steps may be necessary if water service is interrupted or becomes contaminated.
Flooding, rains and winds associated with hurricanes can also create pest issues. Many pests are attracted to moisture and may gravitate to waterlogged facilities following a storm. Even minor flooding may displace pests and create pest issues unseen before a storm. Finally, standing water left behind by storms can attract pests, such as mosquitoes, that are potentially dangerous to people.
Following a storm, assess the following areas of concern:
In the 2016 season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged caution around mosquito protection due to the threat of Zika virus. Zika virus is spread by certain species of mosquitoes and can cause a mild, flu-like illness that has symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) for most people. However, for pregnant women and their partners, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can result in birth defects, including microcephaly. If your area has been impacted by a hurricane, consider mosquito treatments by a professional pest management provider. To protect yourself and your family against mosquitoes, follow these six steps:
You may find additional helpful information regarding hurricane preparation and recovery on these government websites:
Steritech can assist you with crisis management planning or post-hurricane clean up and recovery, as well as any questions you may have about food safety following a storm. Steritech’s Customer Care Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800.868.0089 to assist you with any of your needs.