What to do in cold weather when the power goes out | Tips

The Department of Homeland Security website provides information for all types of emergencies.

There is a special page that provides basic safety tips and what to do before, during and after a power outage.

Here is what ready.gov suggests to do during a power outage:

Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, as candles can cause fires.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.For more information about food safety, visit the food page.

Want more information about food safety? Below are some more tips from the FDA's Food and Water Safety during power outages and floods.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.

If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed.

However, if at any point the food was above 40º F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 º F) — discard it.

Once the power is restored, here's how to determine the safety of your food:

If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).

Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.

Not sure? Check out the foodsafety.gov chart of "when to save and when to throw out refrigerated food."

Also check out the foodsafety.gov chart of "when to save and when to throw out frozen food."

Ready.gov also says to to put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.

Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.

If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing. Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.

ready.gov


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