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Tips for Saving Food After a Power Outage

inside of fridge with thermometer released September 12, 2017 | Gulfstream

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, with millions of people without power for (possibly) a substantial amount of time, it’s good to know a little bit about what you can and cannot eat from your refrigerator and freezer.

Food will keep for several hours in a closed refrigerator and up to two days in a freezer, provided the doors remain closed. Typically this isn’t possible if you are living in your house during the outage, so here are some helpful things to know:

  1. Rely on prepared foods first. If you must prepare a meal with food from the refrigerator, get what you need quickly and close the door.
  2. Remember – when in doubt, throw it out. Discard perishable foods that are not refrigerator-cold.
  3. A full freezer, if not opened, can keep food safe for two days; a half-filled freezer will keep its contents safe for one day (if it is not opened).
  4. Food with a high water content stays frozen longer; meats and fruits do not thaw as quickly as bread and other baked goods.
  5. Do not refreeze frozen foods that have thawed and are not refrigerator-cold.
  6. Harmful bacteria tend to multiply during the thawing process and can grow on fruits and vegetables as well as on meat.
  7. If some of your food partially thaws and still has ice crystals in the package, it can be re-frozen. Please note that the quality of food will most likely be lower. Before using, check the color and smell to make sure it isn’t bad.
  8. The larger the freezer, the longer the food will stay frozen.
  9. If you have a separate freezer, cover it until the power is back on. Blankets or quilts placed over the freezer can conserve the cold, but make sure the air-vent openings are not blocked.

Visit the National Center for Food Preservation for more tips on freezing food.

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