It never fails: You make a big grocery run, fill up the fridge and that’s when the power goes out. While you can’t plan for an outage, you can be prepared. Here are five power outage food safety tips to keep food from spoiling when you’re left in the dark.
Keep Ice on Hand
Having a supply of ice will come in handy when the power goes out. If there’s room in your freezer, fill some containers and water bottles and freeze them so they’ll be ready to help keep food cold during a power outage. Just remember, water will expand as it freezes so be sure not to overfill any containers or bottles.
Learn to meet home disasters—both big and small—head-on with this home emergency preparedness guide.
Move Food to the Bottom and Group Together
When it comes to power outage food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says you should group all your frozen food together. Since heat rises, keep food grouped together in the lower portion of your freezer to help keep it frozen for as long as possible.
Did you know that Costco has a $1,000 Ultimate Emergency Kit?
Keep Doors Closed
Once you move items to the freezer and group food together, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. The Food and Drug Administration says a refrigerator will stay cold for up to four hours, while a freezer will keep its temperature for 48 hours if it is full, 24 hours if it is half-full.
The American Red Cross recommends using coolers if the power outage is expected to go beyond a day. Pack refrigerated food such as milk, meats, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers into your cooler surrounded by ice. Keep it at a temperature of 40 degrees F for as long as possible.
Don’t Keep Food Outside
While you may be tempted to keep cold and frozen foods outside if the power goes out in the winter, the website foodsafety.gov recommends otherwise. “Even when there is still snow and ice, outside temperatures can vary, causing chilled food to enter the ‘danger zone’ of warmer than 40 degrees F and cooler than 140 degrees F and frozen food to begin thawing. Moreover, exposed food can be exposed to animals and unsanitary conditions.”
When the outage is over, check the temperature of your freezer, refrigerator and cooler. The Food and Drug Administration says if the freezer temperature reads 40 degrees F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. Refrigerator food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours and the door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food that has been at temperatures above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
Next, read about 10 first aid remedies that you can find in your pantry.