The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department along with other West Virginia local health departments (LHDs) has been monitoring the impending Winter Storm Jonas. This storm is described as a windy, strong, slow-moving storm that is expected to bring significant heavy snowfall to West Virginia including sleet or freezing rain. During any heavy snow storm, the potential exists for power outages. It is important for residents who lose electrical power and are without a back-up generator to dispose of any perishable food items that have been stored at temperatures greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than 4 hours to help eliminate the possibility of food contamination. Foodborne illness can be serious and poses significant health risks. In addition to individuals and families, supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurant owners need to be cautious. When in doubt, throw it out.

Use the following tips to help ensure your food is safe while waiting for electricity to be restored:

  1. Destroy all perishable foods requiring refrigeration if their temperature has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 4 hours.
  2. Frozen foods in a closed freezer should remain frozen up to 24 hoursafter losing electrical power. After 24 hours, if the food is still partially frozen, it should be safe to refreeze.
  3. Destroy all frozen foods that have thawed and have been stored at temperatures above the 41 degrees Fahrenheit danger zone for more than 4 hours.