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Fridge & Freezer Facts - Keeping Your Food Safe during A Power Outage

A power outage is not only a nuisance, but can make some foods in the freezer and refrigerator unsafe to eat. Meats and poultry can begin to develop bacteria if the temperature of a refrigerator rises above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid eating spoiled products, the temperatures of perishable foods should be checked after the power is restored, researching the maximum safe temperature of high risk foods, like milk, meat, and eggs, is also important. The appearance of a food may not be helpful in determining whether it has spoiled or not. There are a few things a family can do during a power outage is to keep their foods and families safe from bacteria during and after a power outage.

  1. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors shut while the power is out in order to keep foods cold as long as possible.
  2. Have a cooler that can be packed with ice to use as storage for some perishable foods in the event of a long power outage.
  3. If the temperature of a refrigerator is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the perishable items in it need to be thrown out.
  4. After the power outage is over, do not taste foods to see if they are safe to eat. They may contain bacteria.
  5. Dairy products have a tendency to spoil very quickly in dropping temperatures.
  6. The presences of ice crystals on foods in the freezer, as well as their temperature, are factors to take into account when deciding whether they are safe to keep.
  7. Keep a thermometer on hand that can determine the temperature of foods.
  8. If an item of food reflects a temperature of above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, don't refreeze it.
  9. Arrange items or bags of food close together in the freezer so they will stay colder for a longer period of time.
  10. Keep non-perishable foods in the home that can be consumed safely in case of a power outage.
  11. Check the appliance thermometer inside the refrigerator to determine its temperature.
  12. If a person finds that raw meat juice has touched another item of food in the refrigerator that item may have experienced contamination and should be thrown out.
  13. If a person keeps their refrigerator doors closed during a power outage, the food can stay safe for up to four hours.
  14. A person may choose to put bagged ice in the freezer in a prolonged power outage in order to keep its temperature down.
  15. Be sure to make a note of the time of the power outage to have an idea of how long the refrigerator and freezer have been without power.
  16. Because outside temperatures can fluctuate, foods may not stay completely frozen when put out in wintry conditions.
  17. If a person is uncertain for any reason about the safety of a food that has been in the refrigerator or freezer during a power outage, they should not eat it.
  18. Try asking some friends to keep valuable frozen foods in their freezer if the power outage is scheduled to last a long time.
  19. Keep tasty non-perishable foods on hand in the event of a power outage. These will distract children from trying to open the refrigerator.
  20. Call the electric company to get an estimate on when the power will be restored. An estimated time will help a family to determine whether to ask friends for some freezer space.
  21. Coolers that are used to store perishable foods should be kept in a cool area.
  22. Bacteria may grow in foods that are allowed to thaw partially and then are refrozen.
  23. A family should keep a chart that will offer guidance on what foods to throw away after a power outage.
  24. A spoiled item of food may have an odd odor or color, but internal temperature is a better indicator.
  25. Check temperatures of foods carefully after the power is restored.

For further information on keeping foods safe during a power outage, please visit:

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