Food Safety When the Power Goes Out

Mar 31, 2014 Homeowner Tips

Power outages are common in both the freezing temperatures of winter and the blistering heat of the summer. Each season brings with it different challenges when this event happens, especially if it is for an extended period of time. In the winter, a major concern rests on freezing pipes in the home, and how to best keep them from bursting when encountering extreme temperatures. During the summer months, food safety is the major concern. Without a power source to your fridge for an extended period of time, much of the food may be wasted. Make sure that you take the steps necessary beforehand to preserve as much food as possible in the case of a power outage.


The first and possibly most important step is taken before the power outage even occurs. If you don’t already have one, invest in thermometers for your fridge and freezer. Some have these already installed in the design. Right after the outage, check the temperature of each. The fridge should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower while the freezer needs to be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.  If the temperature falls lower than this, follow this food safety chart with the specific foods you have. Some are more likely to stay safer longer than others.

If there has been any indication that a power outage may be coming, fill one-quart Ziploc bags with water and freeze them. This will help keep the food around them cold when there is no source of power keeping it cooled. Don’t fill them too full to prevent them from splitting when expanding and frozen to ward off more problems.

Power outage

Owning a generator will be the most effective way of keeping your home running during a power outage. For those who don’t have access to this, there are a few things that can be done to keep your food safe as long as possible. The first and most important is to keep the refrigerator and freezer door closed unless absolutely necessary to open it. This is when a large majority of the cool will be lost. If the door is left closed, it will usually keep food cold for about 4 hours while a freezer can keep its temperature somewhere between 24 and 48 hours.

Place meat in a tray if possible. If they begin to thaw, this will stop the juices from leaking into other foods. If the power is going to be out for an extended period of time, invest in dry or block ice to keep items inside cold for as long as possible.

Once the power comes back on, be sure to test the inside temperature of your fridge and freezer. Get rid of meats, eggs, or leftovers that have fallen below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than two hours. Make sure to check each item separately to ensure safety. By following the proper food safety procedures, you can preserve as much food as possible, even in the event of a power outage.

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