With hurricane season well under way, it’s important to remember to plan ahead. When it comes to food, you want to be sure that it is stored safely in the event of a power outage. Here are some tips to help ensure that your food is properly stored before, during, and after a hurricane with power loss.
Before the storm hits
- Freeze water or ice packs so that you have something to keep food cold should you lose power.
- Use thermometers to monitor the temperatures of your refrigerator and freezer.
- Freeze food items that you know you will not need right away, such as meat and milk.
- Try to keep a cooler on hand in the event that you need to move food from the refrigerator or freezer.
During the storm while power is out
- Be sure to keep refrigerator and freezer doors tightly closed at all times. This will help preserve the cold temperature.
- If you have kept your refrigerator and freezer doors closed and you have lost power:
- A refrigerator will keep its temperature for up to 4 hours.
- A full freezer will keep its temperature for up to 48 hours.
- A freezer that is half full will keep its temperature for up to 24 hours.
- Consider moving food to a cooler with ice or ice packs before it starts to go bad.
After the storm has passed and power is restored
- Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer to be sure they are at a safe temperature.
- Your refrigerator should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Your freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Discard all perishable food that has been kept at unsafe temperatures.
- Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!
Before a storm hits, you also want to be sure that you have non-perishable items on hand. These items do not need to be refrigerated. You want to store non-perishable items higher up on your shelf or pantry so if flooding occurs, the food will not get wet and contaminated.
Examples of non-perishable foods are:
- Canned foods (vegetables, soups, fruit, nuts)
- Dry foods (crackers, cereals, dried fruits)
- Drinks (water, 100% fruit juice)
For more resources on hurricane preparedness click on the following links:
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020, February 25). A consumer’s guide to food safety: Severe storms and hurricanes. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/emergencies/consumers-guide-food-safety-severe