This Citizen Corps News Digest is provided by FEMA's Individual & Community Preparedness Division to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources and activities recently announced by federal agencies and Citizen Corps partners.

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Food Safety and Kitchen Cleaning After a Disaster

Flooding can cause power outages for hours, days and even weeks, which may make food unsafe to eat. 

If a fire, flood, power outage or natural disaster impacts your home, minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness by knowing how to determine food safety.

You can learn the right decisions for keeping your family safe after a power outage with food and cleaning safety facts from the United States Department of Agriculture  (USDA).

After a Flood

  • Use bottled drinking water that has not come into contact with flood water.
  • Do not eat any food that may have come in contact with flood water.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it may have come in contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps.
  • Discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home canned foods if they have come in contact with flood waters.  They cannot be cleaned and sanitized effectively. 
  • Inspect canned foods; discard any food in damaged cans. Check cans for  swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
  • Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers that may have come in contact with flood waters. There is no way to clean them safely. 
  • Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, utensils (including can openers) with soap and water (hot water if available). Rinse and sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water (hot water if available). Rinse and then sanitize them by applying a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. Allow it to air-dry.
  • Note: If your entire refrigerator or freezer was in flood waters — even partially — it is unsafe to use and must be discarded.

After a Weather Emergency

The USDA also issued a news release with food safety tips to follow in advance of losing power, steps to follow if the power goes out,  and food safety after a flood. There were also steps to follow after a weather emergency.

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
  • Never taste food to decide if it is safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

For more information about cleaning up after a disaster, review Prepareathon's Flood and Hurricane guides.  Also, see food safety tips at .


National Prepareathon Day

Disasters and emergencies raise our awareness of the need to prepare ourselves, our families, and our communities for the types of disasters that can affect us. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are reminders that disasters are often unpredictable. 

While September is National Preparedness Month, September 15 is National Prepareathon™ Day, which aims to highlight the preparedness actions that individuals, families, and organizations completed over the past year.

Sit down with your loved ones to take stock of your preparedness efforts and consider taking the following actions:

  • Talk with your family and neighbors about  planning for an emergency  and identify an out-of-town emergency contact that can help your household reconnect if a disaster affects you. 
  • Consider the costs associated with disasters such as insurance deductibles and evacuation costs, and plan for those costs. Anticipate initial out-of-pocket disaster expenses for lodging, food, gas, and more. Check your insurance coverage to make sure you are protected against the risks you face. Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding.
  • Consider starting a savings account, if you do not have one already, to help you recover from an emergency or disaster. Use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to get started.  The EFFAK is a flexible tool designed to help individuals and families at all income levels collect and secure the documentation they would need to get on the road to recovery without unnecessary delays, should disaster strike.
  • Download  the FEMA app ,  which allows you to sign up for weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the country. Also, sign up for local alerts and warning systems your community may have. 
  • Learn where your community's shelters are located (and whether or not they are pet-friendly).
  • Practice using your community's evacuation routes should you be required to leave – this way, you know exactly where you would go, how to get there, and what to do if an emergency occurs.

To participate in National Prepareathon Day and share your achievements with the rest of the Nation, register your preparedness action on the Prepareathon website and post about your success on social media with the hashtags #HowIPrepare or #HowWePrepare.


Practice and Build Out Your Plans During National Preparedness Month

The third week of National Preparedness Month (NPM) 2017 begins on Sunday, September 17.

Each week NPM focuses on a different preparedness action. The theme for September 17-23, is Practice and Build Out Your Plans. Put your emergency preparations to the test by holding a drill and include features like financial preparedness into your plans. Consider the following preparedness steps from the Ready Campaign :

  • Complete an  Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) .
  • Maintain emergency savings for use in case of an emergency.
  • Participate in an emergency drill or preparedness event.
  • Know how to access community resources (e.g., shelters, food banks).

If you plan to host a preparedness event, we encourage you to share it on the Prepareathon™ website .

You can find more resources including the weekly themes, graphics, videos, and social media content in the NPM Toolkit .


Stay Safe During a Wildfire

With several active wildfires affecting the Pacific Northwest and the Western United States, it is important to know how to stay safe with information and resources from Prepareathon™.

Wildfires can happen anywhere in the country and at any time of year. If you see a wildfire approaching, call 911 to report the fire. Do not assume that someone else reported it.

Follow these tips from Prepareathon's How to Prepare for a Wildfire Guide :

If ordered to evacuate:

  • Leave immediately.
  • Help firefighters, if there is time before you leave. Some of the things to help include closing up the house and leaving lights on for visibility, as well as moving flammable materials to the center of the home, away from windows. You can also leave hoses connected to a water source, so they are available for the fire department.
  • Text SHELTER and your ZIP code (e.g., SHELTER 20472) to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area. Follow local media for more information on shelters.
  • Download the FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) for disaster resources including directions to open shelters.

If trapped in your home:

  • If you cannot get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with a cloth to keep smoke out. Crawl on the floor if there is smoke – the air is cleaner.  Crawl to a door and touch it with your hand.  If the door is hot, do not open it. Call 911 and provide your location.
  • Keep doors, windows, vents, and fire screens closed.
  • Keep your doors unlocked.
  • Move flammable materials (e.g., curtains, furniture) away from windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Fill sinks and tubs with water to assist in dousing small smoldering fires, which may pop up.
  • Stay inside, away from outside walls and windows.

    Remember: Get low and go! If you hear a smoke alarm, get out fast!  For more information on how to prepare for, stay safe during and recover from a wildfire, review Prepareathon's How to Prepare for a Wildfire guide, or got to: or watch the  When the Fire Starts  video.


Important Dates to Remember


Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting:

About FEMA

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at

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