If the power is out for less than 4 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.If the power is out for longer than 4 hours, follow the guidelines below:
- For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half-full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
- For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
For guidelines on refreezing food when the power comes back on, visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service's page on Food Safety in an Emergency. The following resources provide additional information on preparing for emergencies and determining if your food is safe after a power outage:
- Food Safety After a Power Outage, American Red Cross Provides tips on safely storing your food and a chart to help you determine if your food is still safe.
- Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency, United States Department of Agriculture Fact sheet and FAQs on food and water safety including guidance on when to discard perishable foods.
- Being Prepared, American Red Cross is a comprehensive site on preparing for emergencies including power outages.
- Food Safety Office, CDC - Comprehensive food safety information.