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Power Outages and Food Safety Tips

Power out? Keep these tips in mind to keep your food safe.

1. Keep It Closed
Open refrigerator and freezer doors only when you need to. Depending on how hot it is outside, an unopened refrigerator can keep foods cold enough for several hours. Placing blocks of ice inside will help keep food cold longer. Check food carefully for signs of spoilage.

2. Draw the Line at 40 Degrees
Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours.

3. Coolers & Ice Chests
If an outage is likely to be longer than 2 hours, refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers can also be packed into a cooler surrounded by ice. A separate cooler can be packed with frozen items.

4. Cans & Dry Goods
Shelf-stable foods, such as canned and dry goods and powdered or boxed milk, can be eaten cold or heated on a grill.

5. Leave a Light On
When you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on. It will wake you when power returns, so you can check the condition of your food.

6. While You Were Out
If an outage happens while you’re out of the house, try to determine how long it has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with a quick-response thermometer; if it is above 40 degrees, throw it out. If power comes back on in less than 24 hours and your freezer is fairly full, your food should be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 24 hours, you should get rid of perishables.

You can also use this food chart by FoodSafety.gov as a guide: