How to Keep Your Food Cold During a Power Outage

Posted on December 7 2017

Tips and Tricks to Make Your Food Last During a Crisis

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With colder weather approaching, we wanted to remind our customers of some helpful tips to keep their food safe during an emergency. Knowing what to do when you lose power from high winds, snow, or ice can greatly reduce unnecessary food losses.

As a general rule of thumb, a full freezer will hold the temperature unopened for approximately 48 hours and 24 hours if it’s half full.

TIPS TO PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY:

Keeping your food cold without power can be difficult. We understand that you won’t always have time to prepare in advance of an emergency, but if you know of a severe storm in the forecast, take the time to prepare - you will be happy you did!

Here’s some steps to follow to prepare for a weather emergency that knocks out your power:

Tip #1: Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer than if all of the items were spread out.

Tip #2: Move food to the bottom of the freezer. Heat rises, so the bottom of the freezer will naturally be the coldest.

Tip #3: Make sure you have plenty of ice! Purchase, make ice cubes, or freeze gel packs to fill your freezer with as much ice as possible to help keep the food cold/frozen longer. If you don’t have any ice trays, use tupperware to freeze containers of water instead. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.

Tip #4: Use dry ice. If you have access to dry ice, put this in your freezer. Some utility companies often make dry ice available for free during a power outage, so be on the lookout! Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

thermometer-428339_1920-905782-edited.jpgTip #5: Keep a thermometer in your freezer. This will tell you exactly what temperature the food is when the power is restored and you open the freezer for the first time. The freezer should be set to 0 °F or below. If you open the freezer after a power outage and it has not risen above 40 degrees than your food is still cold and perfectly fine to eat. You can pick up a thermometer for less than $10 on Amazon.

Tip #6: Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. A refrigerator will keep your food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened (as opposed to 24 - 48 hours in a freezer), so moving these items into a freezer will give them a better chance of surviving the power outage.

Tip #7: Invest in a Generator. A generator can be a lifesaver when it comes to power outages - literally!

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If you remember back in 2012, Hurricane Sandy shattered the records for the largest number of power outages in Pennsylvania and New Jersey history. Sandy knocked out power for more than 3 million customers. Some residents had to bunk up at local hotels (that only had power from a generator) because their power was out for a few weeks.

View portable generators

TIPS TO FOLLOW DURING AN EMERGENCY:

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Tip #1: Don’t keep opening and closing the freezer/refrigerator doors. Try to keep them closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. Like we mentioned earlier, a closed freezer will keep your food cold for 24 - 48 hours depending on how full it is, and a refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours unopened.

Tip #2: If you lost power during a snowstorm, take advantage of the frigid outdoor temps! Put your food in a cooler and simply place it outside. Depending on the temperature outside, It could stay cold longer than if you left it inside for an extended period of time. Avoid putting food outside directly into the ice or snow because it can attract wild animals or thaw when the sun comes out.

Tip #3: Cover the fridge/freezer with blankets or quilts. This will help to insulate the appliance better to keep it cold longer.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR FOOD IS SPOILED

DO NOT taste the food to determine its safety! If the power has been out for a few days, check the temperature of the freezer with a food thermometer. If the food is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe. If you don’t have a thermometer, check each packet of food to see if it still contains ice crystals. If it does, it’s good to eat or refreeze if the power has been restored. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.

If the vacuum seal is no longer tight around your Five Star frozen food, it’s not necessarily bad. If the food still contains ice crystals, you should be able to refreeze the food or eat it within a few days. If you re-freeze a Five Star package that is no longer vacuum sealed, your food may get ice crystals after some time as the packaging is no longer air tight. Placing any such package inside a Ziploc Freezer Bag will help to prevent freezer burn.

If you purchased a protection plan and experienced a power outage that lasted longer than 2 days or if you feel weary about the food that may have been defrosted, let us know and we will replace any item. To do so, fill out the Contact Us form on the website and let us know which items you lost due to the power outage. We would then place the order and you should expect to have the food back within 7-14 days.

If you do not have a protection plan, talk to your culinary consultant about how you can protect your food and freezer. Five Star customers are able to purchase a freezer from us that includes a protection plan or they can purchase a protection plan on their current freezer. Both are optional, but have plenty of benefits including:Five Star Freezer Photos -FS1 to FS4 095.jpg

  • 10 years service at no charge for parts and labor
  • 15% initial discount off their food or 10% upgrade discount
  • Food loss replacement if your freezer breaks down or even in a documented power outage!

Plus, coverage will stay in effect for no additional charge for all customers who purchased a protection plan and continue to order food after the 10 year initial coverage period. It’s a great way to protect your freezer and still experiencing the convenience and health benefits of Five Star Home Foods. 

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