So, you woke up Sunday morning to no electricity after a night of severe storms that knocked out power to thousands across the metro-east.
How long will the perishables in your refrigerator stay safe to eat?
Not long — only about four hours, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The four-hour limit is only applicable if you keep the fridge door closed.
As for your freezer, it will stay cold for about 48 hours if it’s full and if you keep the door closed. Your refrigerator should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep perishables sufficiently cold and your freezer should be at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you had fish, meat or eggs in your powerless refrigerator for more than two hours, discard them.
If frozen food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
Here are some tips from the FDA on preparing for power outages:
▪ Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or below 0° F, and the refrigerator is at or below 40° F. In case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.
▪ Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water.
▪ Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
▪ Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer.
▪ Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
▪ Purchase or make ice cubes in advance, and freeze gel packs ahead of time. Store all of these in the freezer for future use in the refrigerator or in coolers.
▪ Check out local sources to know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased, in case it should be needed.
▪ Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
▪ Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where it will be as safe as possible from flooding. If your bottled water has an odor, do not drink or use it. Instead, dispose of it, or if applicable, call your bottled water provider to make arrangements to get a replacement.