Leading US government agencies say dry ice is an absolute \\$quot;˜must have\\$quot; for keeping fresh items cold for as long as a week in the event of a power outage caused by hurricanes and other major storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all cite dry ice as a vital supply in the event of a power outage.

Once only available directly from manufacturers, dry ice is now readily available in many grocery stores across the country. One of the sellers of dry ice is also US-based Airgas that sells its Penguin Brand® dry ice in over 4,500 stores nationwide in convenient packages for consumer use.

"With our national network of production plants, we are able to send emergency dry ice to areas affected by hurricanes or severe storms," said Phil Filer, president of Airgas Carbonic and Dry Ice. "With no electricity and no access to fresh food, dry ice is a way to keep foods from spoiling. As we\\$quot;ve all seen from last year\\$quot;s hurricanes, getting food to hurricane victims is a huge problem."

He continued: "With Penguin dry ice available in many grocery stores, families can take the necessary steps to insure that food is preserved before the storm strikes, simply by going to the nearest supermarket."

Airgas recommends purchasing dry ice one day before the storm arrives and storing the dry ice, wrapped in a towel, in an insulated cooler until ready to use. Do not store dry ice in a working mechanical freezer. During a power outage, place approximately 25 lbs. of dry ice on the top shelf of the freezer to keep foods frozen for up to four days. Place the same quantity of dry ice in the lower part of the refrigerator to keep foods cold.

Dry ice removes almost twice as much heat per pound as water ice and has the added advantage of changing directly from a solid to a gas without ever becoming a liquid.

In the aftermath of a storm, dry ice is also one of the first supplies that emergency services organizations distribute, along with food and water.