When it comes to storing food, we’re all pretty good at it. We know the basics. When something starts to smell, throw it away. It’s common sense, right? But what about when there is a power outage for extensive periods of time…what do we do then? Although most power outages occur in the winter, they can really happen at any time of the year, so it’s best to be prepared. How do we keep nutritious foods such as produce and meat fresh so they don’t go to waste? Never fear – we’ve got you covered! Just follow this handy food safety guide for when the power goes out.
What Do You Need?
Make sure to have plenty of them around the house in case the power outage is prolonged. Even the inexpensive Styrofoam ones will do the trick!
Non-Perishable Food Items
I’m sure you want to still be able to eat during a power outage, right? Keep canned foods on stock so you can have those. These can even be consumed cold or heated on the grill. Want homemade canned goods or don’t have the time or “know how” to prepare them on your own? Try a Winter’s Farmer’s Market to support local growers and farms even in the winter. Usually they have a delicious selection of fresh, homemade canned items.
Bags of Ice
Of course, with coolers you’ll want ice to put in them to keep the perishable food cold.
When worst comes to worst and you find that the power will not be coming back any time, use your resources! Grab a snow bank and drop your frozen food and refrigerator food in that for a while. It will be kept cold (or frozen, depending on temperatures and how you place it) and you can get outside to enjoy the fresh air!
What Should You Do?
Keep refrigerator and freezer closed, especially if it’s only half full. Food in the fridge can stay good at a temperature of 40 degrees of below, so the less we open it the longer food will stay cool. Freezer items can also stay frozen for a day or two, depending on how full it is and how frequently it’s opened.
Put Ice around items in fridge if outage is prolonged
If the outage lasts a while and you don’t feel like storing food elsewhere (ahem, outside), those bags of ice will come in handy. Place ice around the food so it stays colder longer.
Store the cooler and other foods outside
If you’re using a cooler with ice to keep food fresh and you live in New England, just stick the whole thing outside! Temperatures in the Northeast are usually below 40 degrees in the winter when most power outages occur.
When In Doubt and Faced with Little Resources….
Build a snow cooler! Dig out a slot in the snow bank for food so it stays cold. Be careful, though…if temps drop considerably during the night, refrigerator food could freeze!
When power finally returns, be sure to check refrigerator for any spoiled foods and dispose of them as soon as possible. Finally, when the storm is over and you’re ready to go outside again, go to the store and buy more fresh food so you don’t have to live off of canned goods anymore! For more helpful tips, check out this video from the FDA. As they say… “when in doubt, throw it out!”