Power outages can and do occur, whether due to extreme weather, like during hurricane season, or other outside forces. Keeping your food safe during a blackout can be difficult, especially if the outage lasts longer than expected.
However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can ensure that your perishable items stay fresh until the power is back on. Here are some tips to help maintain food safety and freshness throughout your emergency power outage.
Take Advantage of Solar Energy
Investing in a solar-powered cooler or even a small solar panel can be beneficial when there’s no electricity. It won’t keep your food as cold as a traditional refrigerator, but it can help your perishable items stay fresh until the power is back on.
The solar panel will also provide enough energy to keep your devices charged during the blackout. Solar panels are often paired with a solar generator, so when shopping for a solar generator for refrigerator, look for one that can support the energy needs of your appliance.
Wrap Your Food Before Refrigerating or Freezing It
Wrapping food items before refrigerating or freezing them will help keep your food fresh longer. To wrap food properly, wrap it up in plastic or aluminum foil. Then, place the wrapped item in a resealable container or bag to help keep out any moisture and prevent freezer burn. This is especially important with items like meats and cheeses that can spoil quickly if not properly stored.
Ideally, wrap food as soon as it is purchased or prepared. This will ensure your food stays fresh and safe, even if the power goes out unexpectedly. The extra precaution never hurts – even if a power outage doesn’t occur, it can still help keep your food fresh longer.
Use Ice or Frozen Water Bottles
Filling your freezer and refrigerator with ice or frozen water bottles is a straightforward way to keep food safe during an outage. This will help keep the food cold and minimize the chances of it spoiling. It’s also a good idea to place a thermometer in your freezer and refrigerator to quickly check their temperature during an outage.
If you don’t have any ice on hand, fill plastic containers with water and freeze them beforehand. This will help keep your food cold and fresh, even if the power goes out for an extended period. Sustainability-wise, using reusable containers is preferable to using plastic bags.
Stock Up On Dry Goods and Canned Foods
Having a stockpile of non-perishable items like dried fruits, nuts, canned beans, and other shelf-stable foods is always a smart idea, especially when you’re concerned about potential power outages. These items will last for months without needing electricity, making them ideal for emergency situations. You can also find canned meats and fish that are perfect for those times when you don’t have access to a refrigerator.
It helps to have a few items on-hand that don’t require cooking, such as nuts, trail mix, and granola bars. These are great for snacks or even a quick meal if the power is out for an extended period.
Use Coolers and Ice Blocks
When there’s no electricity, coolers become your best friend. Place the food that needs to be refrigerated in a cooler and add ice blocks or frozen gel packs to keep them cool. Be sure to restock them regularly with new ice as it melts away so that your food stays cold. You can also use the cooler to store food that doesn’t need refrigeration. If you have enough room, you can also add ice blocks and frozen gel packs to keep them cool as well.
If you don’t own a cooler, you can use your sink instead. Line it with a towel or two to insulate the food from the cold tap water, and fill it up with ice cubes. This technique can help you keep your food cool for longer periods of time.
Freeze Food Beforehand
If you know a power outage is coming, one way to keep your food safe is to freeze it beforehand. This will help keep the food colder for longer and can help reduce the risk of spoilage. Freezing items like cheese, bread, and meats before an outage will help them stay fresh and easier to store in the refrigerator or freezer during the outage.
Always put a thermometer in the freezer and refrigerator to help monitor their temperature during an outage. This can help you determine when it is safe to keep food in them and when it’s time to throw it out. When the power comes back on, transfer the food from your freezer into your refrigerator as quickly as possible. This will help prevent spoilage, and you can start using it immediately.
Store Meat-Based Dishes, Dairy Products and Veggies Separately
Most of these items tend to spoil quickly when left at room temperature. To help keep them fresh for longer, store meat-based dishes, dairy products and veggies separately in your refrigerator or cooler during a power outage. This will also reduce the chances of cross-contamination between different types of food items.
Ideally, all food should be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to remain safe. If the temperature rises above this, it’s best to throw out any perishable items that have been exposed to room temperature or warmer for more than two hours.
Throw Out What’s Spoiled
If you notice that food has gone bad during the power outage, it’s best to throw it out right away. Spoiled food can be a health hazard, and getting rid of any food that may have come in contact with unsafe temperatures is vital. Inspecting your freezer and refrigerator for mold or mildew after a power outage is also a good idea. If you find any, clean it thoroughly and discard any food that may have been contaminated. For maximum safety, always throw out perishable foods if the power has been off for more than four hours. It’s better to be safe than sorry about your health.
Power outages can be inconvenient, but they don’t have to ruin your food. With a few simple precautions and some planning, you can keep your food safe during an outage and minimize the chances of spoilage. Use these tips to ensure that your food stays fresh and safe.