The Fridge and Freezer: When the Power is Out

Keep fridge and freezer doors closed to keep food cold and use an appliance thermometer in fridge and freezer when the power is out. Toss thawed foods if freezer is above 40 degrees F. Put ice or frozen water containers in fridge or freezer to keep your food cold, but never store food outside, even if it’s cold outside.

Cold Holding Tips and Temps

Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain ideal temperatures. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees F. The freezer should be 0 degrees F. Don’t open the doors any more than is needed to quickly check the temperature and get your food.

  • Buy easy-to-store and easy-to-prepare foods. Choose foods that don’t need to be refrigerated and require little or no preparation or cooking.
  • Build up your supply by buying a few extra items each week.
  • Plan to prepare familiar foods to lift morale and give your family a feeling of security in times of stress.

Keeping the Refrigerator Chilled

  • Food in the refrigerator will remain cold for about 4 hours if the door stays shut.
  • Eat the most perishable items first, such as leftovers, meat, poultry, and foods containing milk, cream, sour cream, or soft cheese.

Keeping the Freezer Cold

  • A fully-filled freezer will stay at freezing temperature for about two days if the door stays shut. A half-full freezer will stay cold for about one day.
  • The kind of food in the freezer makes a difference. Foods with a high water content, such as meat or fruit, will stay frozen longer than food with a low water content, such as bread.
  • Group items so they form an “igloo” to protect each other. Keep meats together on one side of the freezer or on a tray so that if they begin thawing, their juices won’t get on other food.

Other Ways to Keep Food Cold, but Not Outside!

  • If you think power will be out for several days, purchase dry ice or block ice for the refrigerator or freezer. This will help keep perishables such as meat, poultry, and dairy items cold.
  • Do not put your food outside to keep it cold, even in the winter. This is not a good idea because temperatures cold enough for refrigerated food are too warm for frozen food. And, even if it is very cold outside, the sun could warm the food to a temperature that would allow bacteria to grow. Also, animals could get into your food and contaminate it.