When the lights go out do Not open your refrigerator or freezer. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Plan ahead; keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer which can help you determine the safe zones! Make sure to look in at the zones of being safe for the freezer which is 0 °F or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below before the power goes off. Freeze containers of water ahead of time for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers after the power is out. Place refrigerated items such a leftovers, milk and meats immediately into the freezer when the power goes out. Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- The refrigerator will keep food safe for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
- Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.
- Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below when checked with a food thermometer. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.
- If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe to refreeze. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
- If you want an easy way to track if your freezer has been off long enough for food to thaw, place a couple ice cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer. If you open the freezer and the ice cubes are melted or frozen together, then foods need to be checked for safety.
- Never taste a food to determine its safety!
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Preparing_for_Weather_Emergency/index.asp
USDA Food Safety.gov –http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/frozen_food.html
Ohioline: Attention Freezer Owners: In case of power outage Do Not Open! http://ohioline.osu.edu/home/freezer.html
Author: Marie Economos, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Trumbull County.
Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties.