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Food Safety Tips for Blackouts

Tim Boyer's picture
Tricks for keeping food cool after the power goes off

Do you know what temperature your fridge should be maintained to keep food safe? How about your freezer? And, what if there’s a power outage? Find out with these food safety tips for keeping your food cool during a blackout.


The latest hurricane threat is over, but it’s just a matter of time before another one hits or some other act of nature knocks down a power line and causes a power outage in your home. Aside from the inconvenience of not being able to charge your phone or laptop, the issue of food safety becomes less of a matter of inconvenience and more of one of health and safety in the home.

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Here’s an informative video from the FDA on what you need to know about keeping your food cool and safe when the power is out:

Key Points on Food Safety during a Blackout

1. Keep an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer at all times.

2. The fridge should be maintained at 40 degrees F or below.

3. The freezer should be 0 degrees F or lower.

4. Keep at least a 3-day supply of canned food that does not require cooking and non-perishable milk in storage.

5. In case of a power outage from a storm, keep your freezer stocked ahead of time with frozen gel packs or containers of ice to add to the fridge to keep it cool longer after the power goes out.

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6. If a power outage is expected, freeze food items from the fridge in the freezer ahead of time.

7. Don’t open the fridge or freezer doors unless absolutely necessary after the power goes out. Without power, a full fridge should keep food cold enough for 4 hours; the freezer is typically good for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).

8. When power returns, check the temp in the fridge. If it is 40 degrees or less it should be safe to eat or freeze for later. If the food in the freezer still has ice crystals it is okay to continue keeping in the freezer.

9. If the power has been off for 4 hours or more and the fridge temp is below 40 degrees F, throw the food out. Do not rely on a sight, sniff or taste tests to see if it is still safe to eat.

10. Do not count on cooking or reheating cooked food to make it safe again. When in doubt, throw it out is the FDA’s sensible recommendation.

For some additional tips on food safety, here are some articles that are food for thought:

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Canned Foods, BPA and Safety Tips

Reference: FDA.gov “Food Safety during Power Outages

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