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Power Failure! How Long Will Your Food Stay Good?

Published on NewsOK Published: June 10, 2014

Electrical outages have become much more common in the US over the past two decades. Summer storms and winter freezes are both capable of knocking out local power for hours or even days. During an electricity failure, your first concern, after the safety of your family members, may be what to eat. How long will food stored in the refrigerator be safe? What can you salvage and what should be tossed? And how will you manage until things get back to normal?

Find Out Why

When your electricity cuts off unexpectedly, even in stormy Florida weather, don’t jump to the conclusion that there is a general power failure. Start by checking your home’s circuit breaker box. (Call a Fort Lauderdale electrician regarding circuits that trip frequently for no apparent reason.) If that doesn’t pinpoint the problem, contact the local power authority or listen to your battery-powered radio – you do have one, don’t you? – for updates. Unplug as many appliances as you can, turn off lights and lower your thermostat. This protects against damage from power surges and makes it easier for the utility company to restore electricity.

Be Prepared

Like a good Scout, you can take steps in advance to be prepared for a crisis. In addition to such basics as emergency lights, stock up on bottled water and non-perishable food, especially baby formula and pet chow. A manual can opener is a must if your rations include canned goods. Owners of gas ranges are in luck. Otherwise an indoor-safe emergency stove is advisable. (Even without any kind of stove, I know a determined caffeine addict who once boiled water for coffee over a candle flame!)

Some people recommend having a portable cooler on hand for food storage, but you can achieve similar results by placing dry ice or ice blocks in your refrigerator … presuming, of course, that you'll have access to a source of ice unaffected by the outage. Load your fridge and freezer as much as possible as a general rule, supplementing with water-filled plastic bottles filled if necessary – this will minimize air spaces and help keep food colder (aa well as adding to your appliances' everyday energy efficiency).

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