Hurricane season is here, and we might (or did) experience a loss of power in the event of a storm. Have you thought about how long your food stays safe in the refrigerator if the electricity goes out?
There are things you can do to prepare your refrigerator so that it can stay colder—and keep food fresh—longer. Start by setting your refrigerator’s internal temperature to 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, and set your freezer for 0 degrees. If you’re not sure of these temperatures, consider purchasing a thermometer for use in your refrigerator and another for use in the freezer. These types of thermometers can be found in local stores, are inexpensive, and provide accurate temperature readings.
If you experience a power outage, you have just 2-4 hours to consume foods safely out of your refrigerator before the temperature goes above 40 degrees. With your freezer, you have 2 to 4 days. Note that these times are based on how full you keep your refrigerator and freezer, and how often the doors are opened. If the doors are opened frequently, the warm air will enter the cavity of the refrigerator and freezer, increasing the temperature.
Here are some simple tips to follow to help keep your foods fresher longer.
- If a storm is days away and looks like we will be impacted, drop your refrigerator temperature 1-2 degrees each day prior to the storm.
- Take out of your refrigerator meats, cheese, dairy products, and other items that can be frozen, and place them into your freezer to help fill it.
- Take water that you have reserved and place a container into your freezer. But, be careful not to overload your freezer at once. Instead, add a few items each day. The key here is preparation, planning days ahead of the storm.
- Remember those refrigerator thermometers? If the temperature has risen above 40 degrees in both your refrigerator and freezer, you will need to discard the food items to avoid a foodborne illness.
- You don’t have a refrigerator thermometer? If you still have ice crystals on your frozen foods, you are still safe to re-freeze the items, but if the is no evidence of ice crystals you cannot rely on appearance and odor, and you will need to discard the food.
- Remember, “When In Doubt, Throw It Out!
To sum up, eat out of your refrigerator first, your freezer second, and then go to your non-perishable foods.
Learn more at:
- Disaster Preparedness — UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County
- Sarasota County website
- The American Red Cross.
- UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County disaster preparedness classes