Fridge Is Off – What Now?
The Northeast is still reeling from the blizzard that swept through the region late last week. As of Sunday, crews were still hard at work clearing roads, and some 350,000 homes and businesses remained without power. Because virtually all Americans rely heavily on electric food refrigeration, the latter means an elevated risk in contracting foodborne illness.
Buy two thermometers. Put one in the fridge and one in freezer to keep track of the temperature during power outages. If an outage is expected, refrigerators should be cooled preemptively to 40 degrees F and freezers to 0 degrees F.
Always keep some water frozen in spare containers. If there is extra ice in your refrigerator and freezer, food will stay colder for a longer. Also, be sure to freeze foods like milk, leftovers and meats.
Once the power goes out, open refrigerator doors only when necessary. This will minimize heat transfer, buying time for your electric provider to reestablish service.
If it looks like you’re going to be in the dark for a number of days, buy dry or block ice. Both types of ice will help keep your food cool. Of course, if it’s really cold outside, you could also move items to your front porch.
When in doubt, throw it out! True to their name, perishable foods will spoil if they aren’t kept at the right temperature. After 4 hours without power, throw these foods away. Another warning: Do not use your taste buds to determine whether or not something is safe to eat!