Food Safety During Weather Emergencies

When you experience extreme weather in your area – follow proper food safety tips to help minimize food loss and reduce your risk of foodborne illness.

Whether you lose power from a hurricane, wind storm, downed tree, flood or even blizzard, food safety during severe weather is often the same.  If your power goes out, you should know how to keep the food in your refrigerator and freezer safe.  Follow these easy steps to save money and keep your family safe from food poisoning.

Before Severe Weather: Plan Ahead (If You Can)

  • Put appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to know the temperature of each.  Knowing the temperature is the best way to be sure your food is safe after a power outage.  Your refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below while your freezer should be at 0 °F or below.
  • Freeze quart-size freezer bags of water to use as a cold source if the power goes out.
  • Stock up on several days of ready-to-eat or nonperishable foods.
  • Know where to buy block ice or dry ice.
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During a Power Outage

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food safe longer!
  • The fridge will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed while a full freezer will stay at temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Group frozen foods together so maintain cold temperatures.  Foods in the back will stay frozen longer than food in the door or in the front.
  • If you know the power will be out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the fridge or freezer cold for about two days.

After the Power Returns

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer.
  • Discard any perishable foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, and leftovers if your refrigerator has been above 40 °F for more than 4 hours.
  • Frozen foods that have thawed, but still contain ice crystals, are considered safe to eat.
  • Never taste food to determine its safety—remember, When In Doubt, Throw It Out!