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revised June 22, 2016

Environmental Health

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During a power failure

During a prolonged power failure, there will be no electricity to run your refrigerator and freezer.  Without refrigeration, harmful bacteria can multiply in food, increasing the chances that you could get sick if you eat that food. Water treatment systems may also not be fully working, and so water quality could be affected.

Be prepared for potential power interruptions by putting together a seven-day survival kit for yourself and your family. It should include:

  • Seven-day supply of food that doesn’t require refrigeration, such as canned goods, peanut butter, dried fruit
  • seven day supply of drinking water (one gallon or 4 litres of water per person per day)
  • manual can opener
  • probe thermometer

Food safety during a power failure

During a prolonged power failure, there will be no power to operate your refrigerator and freezer. There is a possibility that perishable foods could spoil, putting you and your family at risk of getting food poisoning. Without electrical power, a refrigerator or freezer will keep foods safe for the following times only if the door is kept closed:

  • Refrigerator will keep food cold for four to six hours
  • Full chest freezer will keep food frozen for up to 48 hours
  • Half full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 hours

If you are not sure whether an item is spoiled, play it safe and throw it out.

Clean water during a power failure

During a prolonged power failure, water treatment systems may not be fully working, and so water quality could be affected. Always use clean water for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, bathing and cleaning dishes. If necessary, Peel Public Health will issue a “boil water advisory.”

Use one of the sources of emergency or short-term water listed below:

Method Directions Advantages Comments
Boiling Bring to a rolling boil for one minute and allow to cool. Kills all known pathogens. Boiled and cooled water should be safe to drink.
Chlorine Bleach Add two drops (0.1 mL) per litre of water. Mix and let stand at least 30 minutes. Usually effective against most pathogens. Use when boiling water is not practical. Chlorine will not kill parasitic organisms.
Bottled Use water from a reputable supplier. Make sure seal is not broken on bottle before use. Best alternative source of clean drinking water. Use if water is cloudy or suspected to have high levels of chemical pollutants or when there is no other alternative clean water source available.

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Revised: June 22, 2016

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