News Release Distributed 05/25/11To help Louisiana residents determine if they’re ready for a hurricane, LSU AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel developed a 20-question quiz. “The answers you give can help you evaluate whether you’re well-prepared or whether you need to take some action now,” Reichel says. The quiz covers everything from whether your family has a written emergency plan to supplies you have on hand. As hurricane season kicks off, Reichel and other experts say it’s a perfect time to evaluate where you stand and what you can do to be better-prepared if a storm heads your way. “Even if you’ve been through a hurricane before, it’s easy to forget some of the preparations that can protect your property and family, so it’s a good idea to review your plans and make sure you haven’t left anything off,” Reichel says. “Taking the right precautions before a storm has the potential to save time, money, hassles and even lives if a hurricane strikes.” LSU AgCenter experts say the following hurricane quiz can help you gauge whether you’re prepared. They recommend you take action if you answer “No” or “I don’t know” to any of these 20 questions: –Do you have a disaster survival plan? –Have you planned an evacuation route and destination? –Do you have an emergency communication plan for staying in touch with or getting messages to friends and family? –Is your homeowner's and flood insurance coverage up-to-date and sufficient to replace your home and belongings if they are damaged or destroyed? –Do you have an inventory of your property and belongings? –Do you have copies of your insurance policies, household inventory and other important papers, as well as other valuables, in a safe place – one that’s waterproof and fireproof? –Do you know how to turn off your utilities (electricity, gas and water)? –Do you have a plan and supplies on hand to protect and secure your home and outdoor items (and your boat and pool, too, if you have them)? –Has your roof been inspected within the past six months? –Have you trimmed the trees and shrubs around your house? –Has your car been maintained, and are the tires, including the spare, in good condition? –Do you have a plan of what to do with food in your refrigerator and freezer in the event of a possible power outage? –Is your emergency phone list up-to-date and handy? –Do you have emergency survival supplies such as batteries, a battery-operated radio, flashlights, lanterns, fuel, nonperishable food for three days, water/water jugs, manual can opener, medicines, traveler’s checks or cash, and other necessary items on hand? –Do you have an emergency supply kit for your car? –Do you have a plan of how to take care of family members with special needs (those with disabilities, infants or the elderly)? –Have you decided what you will do with your animals if you must evacuate? –Have you budgeted for the added expenses to protect your home, buy supplies, evacuate, clean up and recover? –Have you discussed your emergency plans, duties and rules with your family? –Do you know the LSU AgCenter offers publications and other free information on disaster cleanup and recovery on its website (www.lsuagcenter.com) and through its parish offices across the state?For more information on preparing for a disaster or recovering from one, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office. You also may find the online publications such as “There’s a Hurricane Forming” in the publications section of the LSU AgCenter's website at www.lsuagcenter.com and more information by going directly to www.lsuagcenter.com/hurricanes. One other resource is the LaHouse Resource Center near the LSU campus in Baton Rouge and its online website www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse for information and exhibits of hurricane-resistant building systems, methods and products.
News Release Distributed 05/25/11Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial kickoff to the summer grilling season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its recommendation for safely cooking solid cuts of pork. USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 degrees to 145 degrees and added a three-minute rest time, said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. “USDA recommends cooking all whole cuts of meat to 145 degrees as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allowing the meat to rest for three minutes before carving or consuming,” Reames said. The safe temperature for cuts of beef, veal and lamb remains unchanged at 145 degrees, but the department has added a three-minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations, Reames said. “Cooking raw pork to 145 degrees with the addition of a three-minute rest time will result in a product that is both microbiologically safe and at its best quality,” she said. “This change does not apply to ground meats – including beef, veal, lamb and pork – which should be cooked to 160 degrees and do not require a rest time.” The safe cooking temperature for all poultry products, including ground chicken and turkey, remains at 165 degrees, she added. “Consumers now have to remember only three cooking temperatures – 145 degrees for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meats and 165 degrees for all poultry,” Reames said. A "rest time" is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. This time is important because during the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys disease-producing microorganisms. “USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has determined it is just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 degrees with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 degrees with no rest time,” Reames said. The new cooking suggestions reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve safe pathogen reduction. "Consumers often have viewed the color pink in pork to be a sign of undercooked meat,” Reames said. “If raw pork is cooked to 145 degrees and allowed to rest for three minutes, it may still be pink but is safe to eat. The pink color can be due to the cooking method, added ingredients or other factors.” As always, cured pork (e.g., cured ham and cured pork chops) will remain pink after cooking. Appearance in meat is not a reliable indicator of safety or risk, Reames said. Only by using a food thermometer can consumers determine if meat has reached a sufficient temperature to destroy disease-causing microorganisms. Any cooked, uncured red meat – including pork – could be pink even when it has reached a safe internal temperature.
Louisiana faces serious flood threats during tropical storms and hurricanes from a combination of surge and inland rain. This site directs you to information you can use to understand how predicted flood levels may impact you, how you can reduce flood damage and how you can recover and rebuild once the floodwaters recede.
This newsletter is designed to help educators and students use the school garden to learn more about the natural world around them.
(Distributed 09/07/08) You probably can’t avoid the stress coming in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, but you can manage it, says LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences specialist Becky White.
(Distributed 10/28/09) Today’s lifestyles might be causing people to miss out on the unique love and belonging that come from family bonds, according to LSU AgCenter family and child expert Diane Sasser.