- Steps to Follow to Prepare for a Weather Emergency:
Use appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to help determine if food is safe during power outages. Refrigerator temperature should be 40º F or lower and the freezer should be 0º F or lower.
Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, fresh meat, and poultry that you may not need immediately -- this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case of power outage. You can also use melted ice later for drinking water.
Purchase or make ice cubes and freeze gel packs in advance. Also fill extra space in your freezer with ice or gel packs -- a fuller freezer stays colder longer.
Plan ahead and know where to purchase block ice and dry ice, just in case.
Have coolers on hand to keep the refrigerator food cold in case the power is out for more than 4 hours.
- If the Power Goes Out:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
- When the Power Is Restored:
Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. If the thermometer reads 40º F or below, the food is safe.
If no thermometer was used in the freezer, check each package. If food still contains ice crystals, it's safe.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items) that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40º F for two hours or more.
Never taste food to determine its safety!
When in doubt, throw it out!
- Download a PDF to print for reference in preparation for a power outage:
- A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes
SOURCE: USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service
Prepping for a Power Outage: Tips to Keep Your Refrigerated Foods Safe
Although most power outages strike unexpectedly, when you know the electric is at a much greater risk of going out, like during an impending storm or major weather event, there are several common sense things you can do to prepare. But it's not all about rushing to the hardware store and the grocery.
Aside from stocking up on flashlights, batteries, candles, bottled water, first-aid supplies, and non-perishable food, the USDA reminds everyone to not forget about the perishable food already stocked at home. The following tips from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service can help you keep your refrigerated and frozen goods colder for longer periods -- and safer to eat -- during more extended blackouts.