So your power is out and the clock is ticking on your fridge and food freshness. As you wait for the lights to come back on, at some point, it will be time to feed the family with the options you have on-hand. Being knowledgeable on what is safe to eat versus what needs to go in the garbage is key for preventing upset stomachs down the road. Keep your families healthy and safe both during and after the storm with these food safety basics:
- Keep your food from going bad: Once the electricity is cut, you need to keep your fridge doors closed as much as you can to prevent the food inside from spoiling faster. The FDA states that the refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately 4 hours if it’s unopened, while a full freezer will keep its contents safe for 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half-full). If you are at the store and know that a storm is coming, consider picking up dry or block ice to keep the fridge cooler, longer.
- Make sure your meal is safe to eat: Once it’s time to cook, you’ll want to test all the perishables you intend to eat. Use an appliance thermometer to see if your fridge temperature surpasses 40ºF at any time. If your meat, poultry, fish or eggs were in that warm of an environment for 2 or more hours, it’s not safe to consume. Or, you can go by the eye test: If it still contains ice crystals in the packaging, you’re good to go. Keeping matches and a full propane tank will have you working the outdoor grill in no time, though please note that food that wasn’t kept adequately refrigerated or frozen per these guidelines can still cause illness, even when thoroughly cooked. (You should also keep kids and animals inside while the adult grills!)
- Foods to eat without electricity: Aside from grilling, you can stick to non-perishable goods and snacks (which will encourage you to keep the fridge doors closed too!). Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tuna sandwiches are filling and quick to make, and you can take advantage of other items you might have such as honey and celery respectively. Canned veggies are a boon too, as tossing black beans, corn and salsa with chili, onion and garlic powders makes an appetizing Mexican bean salad. For more healthy meal options, sink your teeth into this top 10 list that has creative and fun ways to take advantage of whatever you may have in your pantry.
For more on what to do during a power outage, read up on our frequently asked questions. →