Tips to protect your family as power is restored

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – If you're not careful, you could encounter some dangerous issues affecting your health and safety both while you're in the dark and when your power finally comes back on. After 48 hours with no electricity, those hazards could lurk right inside your home.

The menu at Jane Snoddy's house doesn't necessarily sound appealing.

"My son came over and got some fast food for me," she explained.

Her story might sound familiar.

"I took some ice cream out of the freezer last night and it was soup," she told NBC12.

She's dealing with the same dilemma in her refrigerator that hundreds of thousands of Central Virginians are facing as they wait for crews to clear the incredible damage and once again light up the area.

"Everything in there is gone," Snoddy lamented. "I'm going to have to throw everything away."

Department of Health officials said your time is up. After just four hours without power to your fridge, the food becomes dangerous. If your freezer was full like Jane's, you had 48 hours to eat whatever was in there and only 24 if it was half full.

"You can develop some type of food borne illness and that's what we want people to avoid," explained Cheryle Rodriguez, with the Virginia Department of Health. "We don't want people to get sick. There's all types of bacteria that can grow."

And if, like Jane, you were cooking when the power went out, you'll want to check your house and unplug any major appliances. The fire danger from a power surge is everywhere.

"It's easy to get distracted," said Department of Emergency Management Spokesman Bob Spieldenner. "I mean, we had a hurricane come through. We had a lot of other problems, not just the power out so it's easy to forget what you left on and what you didn't' leave on."

Also, we know a lot of people have been using coolers in attempts to keep their food cold.  Health officials said that will not keep your items fresh or safe. Again after 48 hours, everything in your fridge and freezer should be thrown out.

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