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KFL&A Public Health issues reminder for those experiencing prolonged power outage

The following is a message from Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health following a destructive storm, officially classified as a derecho, on Saturday, May, 21, 2022, that ravaged parts of Ontario and Quebec, killing at least eight people and leaving thousands without power, including a large number of people in the rural areas of KFL&A.

During a prolonged power failure, no electricity to your cold food storage, like your refrigerator and freezer, can be dangerous. Without refrigeration, harmful bacteria can multiply in food, increasing the chances that you could get sick if you eat that food. Water treatment systems may also not be fully working, and so water quality could be affected. There is a possibility that perishable foods could spoil, putting you and your family at risk of getting food poisoning.

Without electrical power, a refrigerator or freezer will keep foods safe for the following times but only if the door is kept closed:

  • Refrigerator will keep food cold for four to six hours
  • Full chest freezer will keep food frozen for up to 48 hours
  • Half-full chest freezer will keep food frozen for 24 hours

If you are unsure if your food is safe to eat, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Water treatment equipment will not work during a prolonged power failure, and well water quality could be affected. Always use clean water for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, making infant formula, bathing, and cleaning dishes. Ready-to-serve infant formula is the safest option for formula-fed babies when water safety is a concern.

Use one of the emergency or short-term methods below to ensure drinking water is safe during a power outage:

MethodDirectionsAdvantagesComments
BoilingBring well water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow to cool.Kills pathogens.Boiled and cooled water should be safe to drink. Water can be boiled using a barbecue
BottledUse water from a reputable supplier. Make sure seal is not broken on bottle before use.Best alternative source of clean drinking water.Use if well water is cloudy or suspected to have chemical pollutants or when there is no other alternative clean water source available.

If you have water treatment on your well water, such as an ultraviolet light, ensure the treatment system is running properly when the power is restored. Before drinking your well water after a prolonged power outage, flush all lines by letting the water run for five minutes and have your well water tested. Visit KFL&A Public Health’s website for steps on how to sample your private well water.

Within 24 hours of collecting your water sample drop it off at one of the following locations:

KFL&A Public Health – Kingston
221 Portsmouth Ave., Kingston, ON
Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 to 11:00 a.m.

KFL&A Public Health – Sharbot Lake
1130 Elizabeth St., Sharbot Lake, ON
Tuesday, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. (Office is closed, noon to 1 p.m.)

KFL&A Public Health – Cloyne
14209 Highway 41, Cloyne, ON
Wednesday, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. (Office is closed, noon to 1 p.m.)

KFL&A Public Health – Napanee
99 Advance Ave., Napanee
Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.  

Public Health Ontario Lab
181 Barrie St., Kingston, ON
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit KFL&A Public Health’s website for more information about food and water safety.

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