Emergency Loss of Utility Services and Other Imminent Health Hazards
An imminent health hazard (IHH) is a condition that greatly increases the chances of illness or injury to both the workers and the customers of a food establishment. Common examples of an IHH include: Fire, flooding, loss of pressurized water, loss of hot water, loss of power, broken refrigeration, floor drains backing-up/or unable to drain, pest infestation, unsanitary conditions; or, the onset of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak. Think of an emergency or a utility outage as an IHH. An IHH creates an unsafe environment for food preparation or service.
Immediately stop all food-handling activities in areas affected by the imminent health hazard (IHH). Assess the situation and promptly notify the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) of the situation. If it is determined the IHH cannot be contained or lessened by the food establishment, then the facility must remain closed during an IHH.
Any food establishment found to be in operation with an IHH and having failed to notify the SNHD will be issued an immediate cease and desist order. The facility may be required to pass a complete inspection with ten demerits or less and no repeat critical- or major violations as well as pay applicable fees prior to re-opening.
When an unexpected condition arises in a food establishment, even if unsure if it is an IHH, contact the SNHD Environmental Health Division routine inspector (702-759-1110) for guidance.
When an IHH occurs outside of the SNHD regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm), call the 24-hour phone number (702-759-1600), choose the “Environmental Health” option, and press “1” to speak with an inspector; or, leave a detailed message for a prompt call back from the inspector on duty.
Investigate the cause of electrical power loss. Is only one business without power? Or, are other businesses in the immediate area also affected? Contact NV Energy (702-402‐5555) to report outages and to determine if there is an estimated timeframe for electrical power to be restored. Contact the SNHD Environmental Health Division for guidance.
Continuous operation during an electrical power outage depends on the situation. If the interruption of electrical power service is for a short time (as estimated by NV Energy) and the person-in-charge closely monitors food, equipment, and water temperatures to assure all are being maintained at an acceptable temperature (see criteria below) and there is adequate lighting, the SNHD may approve operating during an outage that does not exceed two hours. It is important that food establishments notify the SNHD immediately to assist in making the safe decision. If a food establishment does not notify the SNHD and operates without electrical power, then the food establishment is likely to be issued a cease and desist order. Also, a food establishment may be assessed fees and be required to pass an inspection with 10 demerits or less and no repeat critical- or major violations from the last recorded inspection, before re-opening.
- Food – Closely monitor the temperature of all Time and Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) food to assure temperatures are maintained at 41°F or below for cold holding; or, 135°F or above for hot holding. If TCS foods are between 41° and 45°F, they must be used within 72 hours (date-label these items). Once a TCS food exceeds 45°F it must be used within four hours or discarded (time-label food containers, starting at the time of the electrical power outage; or, once they are taken out of temperature control). Do not serve- or save food that has been temperature-compromised.
- Food holding equipment – Keep cold- and hot holding equipment doors closed to maintain the temperatures of the food.
- Hot water – Hot water from the faucet of the 3-compartment sink must be at least 120°F. Unless the detergent in use has specific criteria for a lower temperature, the warewashing water must be at least 110°F. Close for business if the hot water at the hand washing sink(s) falls below 100°F. To conserve hot water, consider switching to single-use tableware until the electrical power is restored.
Investigate the cause of water loss. Is only one business without water? Or, are other businesses in the immediate area affected? Contact the local water agency to report the outage and to determine if there is an estimated timeframe for water to be restored. Discuss with the local water agency if there are necessary steps to flush the water lines after water has been restored to the food establishment. Contact the SNHD Environmental Health Division for guidance.
Ensure that the imminent health hazard (IHH) has been eliminated and compliance is met for all other items listed on the “Checklist for Re-Opening After an Imminent Health Hazard,” document. Notify the SNHD that the IHH has been eliminated and that the food establishment is ready to resume operations. Facilities that notify the SNHD and follow the re-opening checklist will be given permission to re-open. Depending on the type of IHH, a re-opening inspection may be scheduled.
Telephone: (702) 759-0588
Updated on: June 28, 2019