Outfit your refrigerator and freezer sections with thermometers. Your refrigerator temperature should be maintained at 40°F or less for optimum food safety storage. Your freezer should hold at 0°F or less. Try to remember to have your ice cube trays full at all times. If you have extra freezer space, fill it up with freezer gel packs or bricks.
Winter Power Loss
When you live in an area prone to winter weather power outages, you will do well to install a backup generator system that automatically kicks in when the power goes out. At the least, invest in a portable generator strong enough to run your refrigerator and freezer, water pump, major lights, stove and your heat source.
When there is no power backup, heed storm warnings that may produce outages. Load up on bags and blocks of ice. Stuff them in every available space in your freezer. Load any coolers or trash cans with liners. Store ice outside out of the sun. Winter temperatures will be colder than in your house.
When the power goes out, remove perishable beverages such as milk, cream and juices to a cooler. Pack empty fridge spaces with ice blocks or icebags. This will prevent too many fridge door openings. Store soda and water bottles outside on the doorstep. Winter will keep them cold. Place in a container if the temperature is below freezing. Use coolers for lunchmeats and cheeses. Put coolers on outside doorstep if wildlife is not a problem. The cellar, garage or breezeway are also options especially if the power outage lasts more than three days. Take advantage of snow to keep foods cold.
The less you open the refrigerator and freezer, the longer your food will be kept at optimum safety temperature. Cold food needs 40°F or colder. Frozen food needs to be maintained at 0°F or colder. Your thermometers will tell you if the temperatures are good. When your power is restored, check the temps. If frozen foods still show ice crystals, you are good. Cold foods are okay if temperature is still at 40-45°F. If In doubt, throw it out.
Summer Power Loss
Heat is your worst enemy with the summer. Store up ice blocks as opposed to ice cubes. The blocks will last longer even in a container of water.
Again, take advantage of coolers for frequently used items to prevent opening the refrigerator. Set up a sink or plastic tub full of water and an ice block as a beverage station. Throw some freezer gel packs in. These make instant body coolers when tucked into shirt or underwear.
It is imperative to stuff ice into freezer and refrigerator dead spaces. Then keep closed as much as possible. Your freezer should be good for at least three days, block ice may keep foods for five to seven days. Again, check for ice crystals in the food when the power returns. If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F and there are no ice crystals, cook up your food and have a party. If the temperature is higher, dispose of food.
If your refrigerated foods have been maintained at 40°F or cooler, you are good to go. Otherwise, dispose of perishables and give the interior a good baking soda cleaning.
Check Your Homeowner Or Renter’s Insurance Policy
Your insurance policy may cover food loss during an act of God. Read your policy. Call your agent to know what information you need to collect on food loss if the situation occurs.
Keep your grocery receipts. Take pictures or videos of your freezer and refrigerator contents prior to a potential storm or outage situation. Call your insurance agent before disposing of contents. An agent may need to visit to assess the loss.
A power outage carries enough threats to safety. Don’t let food poisoning be an additional threat.
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