As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Food and Dairy Division Director Kevin Besey is reminding Michigan residents to use food safety precautions during or after severe weather incidents or power outages. With spring comes warmer weather, but also thunderstorms – floods, and tornadoes. It is important to keep some basic food safety precautions in mind during and after power outages when these severe weather events occur. Drink only approved or chlorinated water in areas or regions that have sustained damage from tornadoes or any other serious storms. Water from wells, cisterns and other delivery systems in the area should be considered unsafe until tested. Foods should be examined and items containing particles of glass or debris or cans with broken seams should be discarded. If your refrigerator loses power, keep the internal temperature cold by opening refrigerator doors only when absolutely necessary. A full, freestanding freezer will stay at freezing temperatures about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. If your freezer is not full, packages should be grouped together to form an “igloo” protecting each other. Additional food safety tips can be obtained by contacting your local Michigan State University Extension office; visiting www.michigan.gov/mdard, www.fightbac.org, or www.foodsafety.gov; or by calling toll-free the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854 or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Information Line at (888) SAFE-FOOD.