At the beginning of an emergency, one in which the electricity has failed…

Before you start breaking into your emergency food storage of rice-and-beans,
FIRST use these foods…

…foods from your REFRIGERATOR and FREEZER, before they spoil and go to waste.

BUT! There are caveats to that advice:

If the emergency is one in which you expect the power to come back on within about 4-hours, then it’s not a big deal. This might be something like a thunder-and-lightning storm which knocks out power in your area – which typically gets repaired fairly quickly.

On the other hand, if the emergency is more of a major disaster — something like a hurricane, tornado, or winter storm which has torn out swaths of the electrical grid, or a disaster of similar or worse consequences whereby you expect the grid to be down for some time…

…then YES, consume your refrigerated and frozen foods FIRST — before they waste.


Food Safety


For the Refrigerated section:

If the power is out for less than 4 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. If you expect that the power will come back on soon enough, then while the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.

The refrigerator will generally keep food safely cold inside the fridge for about 4 hours if it is unopened while the power is out. Perhaps longer depending on the fridge and environmental conditions.

Foods are generally safe for 4 hours after removing them from refrigeration.
Before that time, eat them. After that time, discard them.


For the Freezer section:

A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours when the power is out.
A full freezer will generally hold food safely for 48 hours.

You can extend the storage time of food left in a freezer during a power outage by preemptively filling empty spaces with jugs of water to freeze at least 24-48 hours before any power outage. Fill clean plastic containers or jugs with water and freeze them. Food will generally keep in a well-insulated, well-filled, closed freezer for 2 to 3 days.

Frozen foods are generally good for 4 hours after they begin to thaw.
Before that time, eat them. After that time, discard them.


Refrigerator and Freezer Temperature

Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer no matter how long the power has been out. It is a good idea to dedicate a thermometer for the fridge and freezer to always know they are at a safe temperature.

For the fridge, always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 °F.

For the freezer, while the temperature of freezing is 32 °F, it is recommended to keep frozen food at or below 0 °F.

Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food right before you cook or eat it.
Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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