Food and Water Safety after Storms/Extended Power Outages

For more information about staying safe and healthy after a disaster or storm click here, or call the Newtown Health District.

With thousands of households in town without power, it is important to prevent getting sick from food that has spoiled or water that has been contaminated. The Department of Public Health provides the following tips to stay healthy:

Food Safety: When in doubt, throw it out!

  • The refrigerator will keep food at proper temperature for about four hours if the doors are not opened. A full freezer will hold a safe temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full).
  • If the temperature in your refrigerator or freezer goes above 40 degrees, throw away perishable foods such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and cut fruits and vegetables.
  • Food can be safely refrozen if it still has ice crystals on it or has stayed below 40 degrees.
  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. This includes
    • packaged food items in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers that may have been water damaged, as well as beverage containers with screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops, and home canned foods, as these tops cannot be disinfected appropriately. In addition, lids of commercially canned foods should be sanitized (bleach and water solution) prior to use.
  • As always, if there is any doubt as to the safety of the food, it is best to discard the food rather than take a chance of contracting a foodborne illness. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Drinking Water

  • The public water supply in Newtown has remained safe for drinking and bathing. If that condition changes, an advisory will be issued.
  • If an advisory is issued concerning contaminated water, use only bottled, boiled, or treated water for drinking, cooking, food preparation, and hand washing.
  • Homeowners in flooded areas whose private wells have flooded (flood waters submerged their wells) should consider their wells contaminated. For information on disinfecting flooded wells click here, or call the Newtown Health District at (203) 270-4291.
  • Throw away any bottled water that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.

Toilet Flushing: During an outage, you may flush a toilet, then pour water into the toilet tank (not the bowl) before flushing again. Turn off the water supply to the toilet before flushing. Toilet tanks vary and hold several gallons of water, so plan accordingly.