How to keep your food safe during a power outage

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has some tips for keeping your food safe when the power goes out.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Refrigerators can keep food cold for as long as four hours if it has not been opened. A full freezer can keep its temperature for about 48 hours if the door is closed.  A half full freezer can last 24 hours.

You can buy dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator cold if the power is going to be out for a long time. Fifty pounds of dry ice can hold an 18-cubic feet fully-stocked freezer for two days.

If you eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while it’s still at safe temperatures, thoroughly cook it to the proper temperature to kill any foodborne bacteria. If the food was above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more at any point, you should throw it out.

Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before you eat it.

Use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water for your infants. If you must use concentrated or powdered formulas, used bottled water if your local water source is potentially contaminated.

Once the power is back, check your freezer’s appliance thermometer if you have one. If the temperature is 40 degrees or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.

If there was not a thermometer in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. Don’t rely on appearance or odor and never taste it. If the package still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

Discard any perishable refrigerated food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers that has been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Perishable food that is not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if eaten, even when thoroughly cooked.

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