Jennifer’s Journal: Keeping food safe in power failures

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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This past weekend with temperatures hovering at 0 can often times produce loss of power, either from excessive usage or from other weather circumstances like ice.

Since we don’t know how long our power can be out, we want to take a few simple steps to keep our perishable foods safe.

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A refrigerator will keep food safely cold for at least four hours if you keep the door closed.

Your freezer, if full of foods, will hold solid about 48 hours or 24 hours if half full. A lot of folks think it’s a good idea to store frozen food out in the snow. The problem with this is the outside temperature can vary hour by hour, which allows your foods to become too warm and it then sets the stage for foodborne bacteria to grow.

It is recommended that you fill buckets, empty milk cartons, or cans with water and leave them outside to freeze. This ice can then be used in your refrigerator or freezer to keep perishable items at the proper temperature for safety.

Once the electricity has been restored, you need to evaluate each item in the refrigerator and freezer separately.

If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze. There may be some loss of quality as the product refreezes.

Discard any perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers that have been above 40 degrees for two hours or longer.

Never taste food or rely on appearance or smell to determine food safety.

For more information on keeping food safe during an emergency, contact the Clark County Extension Office at 744-4682 or visit us on the web at

Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.