As you prepare your house for the upcoming storm, also keep food safety in mind. Preparing food for a power outage can help minimize the loss of food and the risk of food borne illness. Download the USDA’s : A Consumers Guide to Food Safety in Severe Storms and Hurricanes to reference at anytime. Start now in preparing your perishable foods for the storm.
- Use appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to help determine if food is safe during power outages. Refrigerator temperature should be 40° F or lower and the freezer should be 0° F or lower.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, fresh meat, and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case of power outage. You can also use melted ice for drinking water.
- Purchase or make ice cubes and freeze gel packs in advance.
- Plan ahead and know where to purchase block ice and dry ice, just in case.
- Have coolers on hand to keep the refrigerator food cold in case the power is out for more than 4 hours
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
- A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full) * If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
- Check the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. If the thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe.
- If no thermometer was used in the freezer, check each package. If food still contains ice crystals, its safe.
- Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items) that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40° F for two hours or more.
- Never taste food to determine its safety!
- When in Doubt, throw it Out!
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