Royal Gorge Wildfire
Food and Water Safety Alert for Families Returning Home or Lost Power
Free Recovery Disposal of Spoiled Food
Cañon City/Florence — June 14, 2013. As many of the evacuated Fremont County residents return home, it is important to remember that food may be unsafe because of damaged containers or because the refrigerator or freezer was without power for up to 20 hours. As food waste spoils or decays, it can be a health hazard.
If your power was off for more than 4 hours, it’s time to clean it out! Do not keep any refrigerated food that may be spoiled or contaminated, including catsup, mustard, pickles, jelly, sandwich meat, milk, juices, etc. If your freezer was FULL, it can hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if only half full) IF the door remained closed.
Any spoiled or smoke contaminated produce or dry food in damaged/contaminated packages should also be discarded. Do not keep any household medicines that were refrigerated and/or were spoiled or contaminated. Please contact your physician for further instructions on the handling and possible replacement of any refrigerated prescription medications.
When in doubt, throw it out!
Dumpsters for disposing of spoiled and/or contaminated food are available for residents returning to their homes after the Royal Gorge fire at the following locations through the weekend (removed on Monday morning):
County Road 9, just north of Highway 50
County Road 69
County Road 3A, near the checkpoint
County Road 61
Junction of County Roads 3 and 28
These dumpsters are for FOOD PRODUCTS only and ONLY for those families and businesses who were affected by a power outage or fire and are now cleaning their refrigerators, freezers, and pantries of spoiled and/or contaminated foods.
Homeowners: Double bag the spoiled food and dispose with the garbage or take to a dumpster site listed. Remove the garbage as soon as possible to prevent undesirable odors and insect or rodent infestations. Store sealed trash bags in trash cans with tight fitting lids or in watertight dumpsters.
Commercial Food Facilities: Food facilities with small quantities of waste food can double bag the spoiled food and dispose in a watertight dumpster or take to a dumpster site listed
Your water system may have been adversely affected by the fire, power outages, equipment failure from fire damage, or contamination. Be prepared and have plenty of bottled water available for drinking and cooking. Kits to test the safety of your well or cistern drinking water are free and will be available on Monday through the Fremont County Public Health Agency office in Canon City. Kits may also be obtained by contacting the Environmental Health Services Officer, Sid Darden, at 615 Macon Avenue, Room 212, Canon City or by calling 719-276-7460.
Take the following steps to clean refrigerators and freezers:
- Remove everything from the refrigerator or freezer.
- Use paper towels or rags to wipe up spills and leaks and dispose of them with the food waste.
- Wash out the refrigerator or freezer with a strong bleach solution. Use 1½ cups of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use latex or rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin that may be irritated by the bleach solution.
- Wash out the appliance with warm, soapy water.
- To remove odors, wipe out the appliance with a mixture of water and baking soda, or keep a box of baking soda in the appliance. You also may want to air out the appliance for a few days before plugging it in and using it again. Secure doors in an open position to provide air flow and keep children away.
For additional information on air, food and water safety after a wildfire, contact the Fremont County Public Health Agency at (719) 275-1626. Up to date information can also be found on the FCPHA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/FremontCountyPublicHealthAgency.
Additional information on the Royal Gorge fire and links to more health information can be found at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3419/.