OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – The Douglas County Department of Health says food safety is a concern following recent power outages in eastern Nebraska.

“If the energy in your home is out for less than two hours, then food in the fridge and freezer will be safe to eat,” said Director of Health Dr. Lindsay Huse. “Keep the doors of your appliances closed as much as possible while running out of energy to keep cool.”

More than 100,000 people are currently without power.

Huse, who recently took office for Dr. Adi Pour retired, said to throw away food if there are any concerns about his safety.

“To be absolutely sure you are safe, the best practice is when in doubt, throw it away,” Huse said. “Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two or more hours, and any food that has an unusual smell, appearance or sensation.”

The Department of Health also passed these tips:

Here are some rules to follow if your power is off for more than two hours:

• A full refrigerator will keep food safe for 48 hours, while a semi-full refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 24 hours.

• Pack refrigerated items, such as milk, meat, fish, eggs and spoiled waste, in a cooler filled with ice. Loose polystyrene coolers work well for this.

• Use a fast-response digital thermometer to check the temperature of your food before cooking or eating it.

Discard any food with a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some other ideas that may help include asking friends who have electricity to share their space in the fridge, even if you have to share frozen items. You can also look for freezing space in a store, church, school or commercial refrigerator, and dry ice is another option.

Melted foods that are still “cold in the fridge” or have ice crystals can usually be eaten or frozen again.

Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cube freezer under freezing for three to four days. Be careful when handling dry ice because it freezes everything it touches.

Caution: Dry ice is formed by carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. At fairly high concentrations it can significantly reduce the percentage of oxygen in the air of poorly ventilated areas (enclosed spaces). Cold carbon dioxide gas can sink to the floor and lower the percentage of oxygen near the floor in a poorly ventilated room.

Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide can cause problems for pets or children because they have a higher metabolism and may be closer to the floor where the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher.

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