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Beware of Food, Drinking Water After Irene

WESTPORT, Conn. – If you've lost power for more than a few hours due to Irene, the food in your refrigerator may not be safe to eat, Westport Weston Health District Director Mark. A.R. Cooper warns.

"As a general rule, refrigerated items should be safe if power is not out for more than four hours," Cooper said in a statement. "A full freezer should keep foods safe for about two days."

Cold foods that have exceeded 40 degrees should be thrown away as should foods that need to be maintained hot that have fallen below 140 degrees, Cooper said.

When it comes to judging your food, Cooper warned residents that looks can be deceiving. Food may be bad, even if it doesn't look or smell bad. If there is any doubt as to whether something is good or bad, Cooper said residents should throw it out.

In addition to food, Cooper said well water may have become contaminated during flooding, especially if the flooding was caused by a tidal surge.

"If your well has been flooded, it needs to be disinfected and tested once the floodwaters recede" Cooper said. Until then, refrain from using your water.

If you have a well that is susceptible to flooding, but aren't sure if it flooed, Cooper said it's best to use water only after its quality has been verified.

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