Power Outage Food Safety Tips

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.

· You might also enjoy Outdoor Food Safety Tips ·

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Irene Nevins

Irenen1 is a freelance writer. You may recognize her user name and avatar from several writing venues. Her expertise ranges from hospitality, healthcare, business through SEO, online marketing and gardening. She has a lifetime of experience to share with you.

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30 thoughts on “Power Outage Food Safety Tips”

  1. Food preservation during winter is not a big problem as it is during summer. Nice tips, I learned a lot from it.

    • That’s what we are all about. We share tips to help each other. The more you learn, the better prepared you are when it happens to you.

  2. Power outages are common in Pakistan too and keeping food fresh is quite a big challenge. I buy and prepare smaller quantities of food in summer.

    • I think I should agree with you.. if there are power outages, maybe buy food that will be enough for a day or two days consumption.

          • Doors, cash register, lights and security systems work on power. Even with emergency generators, Board of Health needs to sign off after power is restored.

          • They stay closed in the USA, because the stores have no power, either. We’ve lost it here for up to nine days and everything spoiled, basically everywhere, this is the USA.

            We are in an apartment and we keep bottled water, (always), but the freezer things will spoil, no matter how much ice we have there, and we’ve never found a renter’s policy that will cover it.

          • Some small neighborhood stores can be open. But depending on how disastrous the situations is, some can be closed.

          • i’ve been in tough situations before and knowing what to do in such cases will keep you alive.

          • yes, i agree, we had experience this too during Ondoy when our town was literally closed.. in other words no one can get in and out of our town for a week. such difficult situation.

          • oh yes, really bad not just for us but for my other siblings living else where. they were really worried, because we lost communications with them, telephone lines were down too. and my other sister living in Paranaque was so worried because she didn’t know what happened to us.
            I was so lazy to go home every weekend, (I was living in QC then) but that week I went home. If I did not go home that weekend, too I will be very very worried, too

          • it’s the worrying and not knowing that can be frustrating. Just a sign that the family is ok is good enough. It can give us peace of mind or at least lower our anxiety.

          • yup.. that’s true, so every time there is a typhoon or even a simple LPA in the Philippines I make sure that I will skype them to see how are they doing…as if I can do something about it.

      • I remember the time when there was really problematic power problem. (Remember President Ramos time?) my favorite part of it all, was that the ice cream were sold sometimes at a half price, or.. sometimes, buy 1 take 1. We always had ice cream during that time.

        • That’s what i love about you @mavic123456:disqus you always see something positive in things. LOL who can deny himself buy1 take 1 ice cream.

          • yes .. why not… wallow in the annoyance and miseries.. just might as well enjoy what is present and being offered…

            who would?? buy 1 take 1 ice cream…

  3. These are very practical tips @irenenevins:disqus Some foods are more vulnerable during power outage. When they are outside their optimum temperature, they can go bad quickly. For extended periods of power loss, i make sure we have enough food that do not require refrigeration.

    • We do that too, canned goods, bottled water, dried foods that can “just be eaten” and we do get by. The rest spoils and June 1 here, is the start of our hurricane season, and it doesn’t look like tornado season has ended, so we expect whatever. Our office has a generator, but they are not allowed for apartments. We can go there, to get warm or cold, but that’s temporary. Eventually, you go home.

      • It does pay to know some survival strategies. it takes presence of mind to deal with emergency and difficult situations.

  4. One year, we salvaged our food by using coolers. We were without power for 9 days and eventually, no one in town, had ice. We cut icy frozen branches from the trees and stacked them in the coolers with the food between them. Surprisingly, it worked.

  5. These are good tips. I always keep some canned meat and dried foods in the pantry just to be on the safe side.

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