Refrig: How Long Without Power?

Let’s say something just took your power out. No power, no refrigeration. What happens to the food? If you’re like me, you won’t be able (or want) to eat it all right away, and you may not have a working stove to cook it on. What should you expect?

FEMA offers the following guidelines.

Be Prepared

  • Have a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Know where to buy dry ice.
  • Keep three days worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling, which depend on electricity.

When the Power Goes Out

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • A refrigerator keeps food cold for about four hours if it is unopened.
  • A full freezer keeps the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • Refrigerators should be kept at 40 F or below for proper food storage.

Once the Power is Restored

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer.
  • If you keep an appliance thermometer in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
  • If you do not keep a thermometer in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
  • Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
  • Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that stays above 40 F for two hours or more.

Inadequately refrigerated or frozen perishable food such as meat (like beef or pork), poultry (such as chicken or turkey), seafood, milk, and eggs may cause illness if consumed, even when thoroughly cooked.

You can find more information and activities at FEMA’s Preparathon site.

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