Food Safety Tips: Keeping Perishable Food Safe When the Power Goes Out

Being prepared when the power goes out is key to keeping your food and your family safe

Food Safety Tips: Keeping Perishable Food Safe When the Power Goes Out
Image: Pixabay
September 10, 2018

Any time your power goes out due to high winds, snow/ice, a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, flood, fire, or any other electrical failure, the safety of the food inside your refrigerator and freezer is immediately jeopardized.

Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep it safe will help you minimize the potential loss of food to spoilage and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Keeping Your Food Safe

If your power does go out, follow these important tips:

  1. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  2. That will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours, or 24 hours if it is half full and the door stays closed.

  3. If you can, get block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible.
  4. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

  5. If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer.
  6. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe.

  7. If you don't have a thermometer, check each package of food to determine its safety.
  8. If the food still has ice crystals, it's safe.

  9. Throw away refrigerated perishable food after 4 hours without power.
  10. Examples of these foods include meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items.

  12. Consuming potentially dangerous food is never worth the risk.

Get more information on food safety after a power outage or natural disaster and find other food safety tips and alerts at