Avoid foodborne illness during temporary power outages

A Department of Energy analysis has shown that weather-related outages have increased by 67 percent in the past decade. Climate change and aging infrastructure impact our power grid and communities. Extreme weather can cause an increase in electricity consumption. Some power grids may experience blackouts, an unexpected loss of power that can last minutes, hours, or days.

Customers will be asked to conserve energy or schedule a brownout to reduce electricity flow to areas of the grid. This will prevent a blackout.

Here are some important reminders for your home if there is a temporary power outage.

Monitor Temperatures Always keep an appliance thermometer in the freezer and refrigerator. The refrigerator should be at 40°F or lower and the freezer at 0°F or lower. Only open the fridge or freezer when necessary to preserve chilled air that keeps food safe.

4-Hour Window If you close the door, your refrigerator will keep food fresh for up to four hours in case of a power outage. Refrigerated perishable foods should be thrown out after four hours without power. You must throw out all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers.

Throw it out if in doubt. Never taste food to assess its safety. Use this chart to evaluate each item.

Food lasts longer in the freezer: Keep your doors closed, and food will keep safe for up 48 hours in a full freezer and 24 hours if it’s a half-full freezer.

Use a cooler: Place food in a cooler, and then fill it with ice or gel packs. Ensure enough ice in your cooler to keep it at 40 degrees F or lower. As the ice begins to melt, add more ice to your cooler.

Prepare: If your power goes out for a long time, you can get dry ice or blocked ice. Fifty pounds of dry ice will keep an 18-cubic foot freezer for two days. Warning: Dry ice should not be touched with your bare hands.


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