Here Are Answers To Some Of The Most Common Questions You’ve Been Asking Post-Irma

Sep 13, 2017

As hundreds of thousands of people in South Florida remain without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many people are figuring out how to proceed. Here are answers to some of the questions you’ve been asking, including ones about where to get ice, where to dispose of debris and how long your refrigerator can stay cool. 

If there is a boil water order in my town, is it OK to shower?

So, first and foremost, it’s not clear what the risks are of bathing in tap water if there’s a boil-order, according to a Massachusetts state site. The site recommends that bathing with tap water when there’s a boil-order should be “avoided particularly by people with open wounds or who are immunocompromised.”

If you do decide to shower, you should minimize the time spent in the shower, keep your eyes and mouth closed, and take a sponge bath. You should also take care to avoid showering in contaminated water if you have any open cuts.

Also important: Do not let babies or young children bathe or shower in tap water, since they might swallow the water. Use bottled water to brush your teeth and wash your face. 

If I don’t have power and I keep my refrigerator and/or freezer doors closed, how long can I expect the food to be safe to eat?

The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees F or lower. If the refrigerator door is closed, it should keep food cold for about four hours, according to Foodsafety.gov. Anything longer means your food is at risk of spoiling.

Here’s some other helpful info from Food Safety Gov:

”A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full). If your freezer is not full, group packages so they form an “igloo” to protect each other.” 

”Place meat and poultry to one side or on a tray so if they begin thawing their juices will not get on other foods.”

What safety precautions should I take with my generator?

The Palm Beach Post has a couple tips on that front: 

“Never operate a generator or barbecue grill inside the home. Carbon monoxide is deadly, odorless and colorless and can kill in minutes, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. Do not use generators or grills even in open garages or porches unless they are at least 20 feet from the home.

Never connect a generator directly to your home’s electrical system. Don’t plug a gasoline-powered generator into your household AC circuits. The electricity will travel outside your house to the downed power line. You could electrocute yourself or start a fire. Also, utility workers, believing the line is dead, could be electrocuted. Plug appliances directly into the generator.”

Where should I dispose of the debris in my yard? 

Contact your city for garbage and recycling pickup. 

Palm Beach County advises residents to separate their waste. Put garbage and recycling out by 6 a.m. Vegetation and construction storm debris should be in their own piles. 

Miami-Dade resumed its residential and business garbage pickup on Tuesday. Details here

What grocery stores are open and where?

A number of grocery, convenience and home improvement stores are already open in Miami-Dade County. Find the complete list here. The Miami Herald also has a running list of what's open and closed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.