Posted: December 30, 2013 in Current Events, Environment, Survival Skills


The first thing people often worry about after a power outage is the food in their refrigerator.  There are several misconceptions about this.

1. If you open it very few times, refrigerators will remain sufficiently cold for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.  What does sufficiently mean?  See below.  Your freezer will be OK for up to 48 hours.  Deep freezer chests will last longer if they are not opened.  This may vary between models.  Some are more energy efficient than others.

2.  If you are worried about either getting too warm, that shouldn’t be a problem in the winter time.  It’s cold outside.  Put food in some kind of plastic box/crate (to keep animals away) and place it outside, in a garage, in an unheated sun room or on a balcony.  Even your car trunk.  Keeping things cold in the winter should be the least of your worries.

3.  Most frozen foods can be refrozen without risk as long as it is food that will be eventually cooked thoroughly.  Raw thawed meat can be safely refrozen, as long as it is, of course, not rotting.  Lots of people leave raw beef in the refrigerator for a week or so anyways so that it will age.  Having meats at room temperature for more than four hours is a problem, but that, again, should be easily avoidable in the winter.  Chances of contamination are slight and cooking it will eliminate any chance at all.  This does not apply to any foods that will not be eventually cooked, such as cold cuts, ice cream, cooked shrimp, leftovers, etc. Those are high risk.  And a summer power outage is a different story.

4. Most of the foods in your refrigerator are more durable than you might think.  Eggs, for example, do not really need refrigeration.  Just wash your hands after handling the shells.  Vegetables don’t get much refrigeration when sold in stores, so you really have a lot of leeway here as well.  Dairy products and cheese, well you know when they go bad.  Butter is good for days as long as it doesn’t get too warm.  Your main concern would be leftovers, cold cuts, and a lot of the jarred and bottled sauces and salad dressings.  Jam and peanut butter are pretty resilient, especially if it is before the expiry date.  Anything with a high sugar content, like maple syrup, is going to be fine unless left warm for a pretty extended period.

During the winter, you should never be in a position where you have to throw out the contents of your refrigerator whole scale.  A summer power outage is a different matter.  You don’t have the option of using the cold weather outside.  But otherwise the same principles apply.

Tomorrow:  Cooking and preparing foods along with what kinds of food you should try to have on hand. 


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