In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which left millions without power, a new study highlights that many older adults are not equipped to keep food safe during an extended power outage.
The study, published in Educational Gerontology, was conducted by researchers from RTI International, Tennessee State University and Jackson State Community College.
Emergencies, such as Isaac, often lead to extended power outages that endanger the safety of food and cause an increased risk of foodborne illness. This heightened risk can be potentially dangerous for older adults, who are more likely than younger adults to experience serious complications or death from foodborne illness.
The study found few adults aged 60 and older were prepared for an extended power outage (24 hours or more), and those who had experienced a severe power outage rarely followed recommended safety practices for discarding refrigerated or frozen foods.
"This study suggests that information on food safety during and after extended power outages may not be reaching older adults, or that they are not responding to this information," said Katherine Kosa, a research analyst at RTI and lead author of the study.
The researchers surveyed 290 adults aged 60 and older to gather information about their awareness, knowledge, and practices related to food safety and emergency preparedness, including their recent experiences with extended power outages.