Power outages can happen suddenly due to various reasons, such as weather emergencies, natural disasters or equipment failure. When the power goes off, for long periods of time, harmful bacteria can grow and the food in your refrigerator and freezer may become unsafe to eat. Consuming this food may cause foodborne illness. The most common symptoms of foodborne illness may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
If you know that a power failure will last for a long period of time, see if you can take the food to a friend nearby who has power. Otherwise follow instructions below:
Power outage for more than four hours:
Power outage for more than 24 to 48 hours:
If you need information on proper storage of your prescription drugs that require refrigeration, such as insulin, call your doctor or pharmacist.
Try to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. If the doors stay closed, the food will stay safe for up to:
If the power has been out for more than four hours, and you have a cooler and ice available, transfer the perishable food from the refrigerator to the cooler. Add ice or gel packs to keep the food at or below 4°C (40°F).
Do not place frozen food outside, even in winter. The sun’s rays could thaw frozen food even when the outdoor temperature is very cold, and animals could contaminate your food.
The best way to prevent foodborne illness during a power outage is to plan ahead. Here are some tips:
For more information on food safety during a power outage, you can visit these websites: