The wind is howling. The rain is coming down in sheets. The power goes out for a few hours. And, then everything’s fine — except, maybe, all that food in your fridge and freezer.
The question is: Should you eat it or toss it? The answer: It depends – on a lot of factors, actually. To help you determine the best course of action, here are some insights and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the Power’s Out
Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer, if possible. Keeping the doors closed helps keep the cold in, potentially preserving your food for longer. How long? Typically food is safe for up to four hours in an unopened refrigerator and 48 hours in a full, unopened freezer (less if the freezer isn’t full). You can add block or dry ice to either if you think the power might be out for an extended period.
Once the Power Returns
When the lights blink back on, don’t just assume everything is OK. A few checks are in order first, especially if the power has been out for more than four hours. What’s not in order? Taste testing. You should never taste food to determine if it’s safe. Instead, follow these tips.
Prepare for the Next Outage
Not knowing whether or not your food is safe to eat is frustrating, to say the least. These tips will help to further unravel the mystery.
Throwing out food is frustrating, too, so check your homeowners policy. Many provide coverage for food spoilage in such situations. However, because your deductible might be higher than the value of your food, a claim often doesn’t make sense unless you have other damage to your home.
Power outages and other emergencies are already stressful enough. Don’t compound that stress by eating food that could make you sick. If there’s any doubt, just go ahead and throw it out.
No matter where you live in the U.S., you likely face your fair share of storms. So, review these safety tips on rainy day driving, lightning myths and fallen tree insurance coverage, plus learn how to put together an emergency kit.
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