Living on the gulf coast there’s a certainty that you are going to loose all the food in your fridge and freezer at some point due to a tropical storm or hurricane. Bad storms happen and most likely you’ll have to spend time picking up debris and making repairs. One of the worst parts of bad storms that take out your electricity for a few hours or days isn’t the repairs or damage, it’s dealing with your refrigerator and freezer when you haven’t had power to keep it cool.
With a few simple steps you can prepare your fridge and freezer for power outages and hopefully save the food inside.
1. Reorganize your fridge and freezer –
In order to keep your food frozen or cool you need to move the items closer to each other. A tightly packed fridge or freezer can save food for up to two days but a bare fridge will only keep food safely cool for about half a day.
- Move all items off of the doors and onto the shelves, tightly packed together.
- If you have large open spaces and expect your power to be out for more than a few hours pack those areas with newspaper.
- If you have two freezers, put your high priority items in one freezer and your easier/cheaper to replace items in the other freezer. The high priority freezer should be packed as tightly as possible and never opened until power is restored.
- Move any food that can be frozen, such as milk and meat, from the refrigerator to the freezer to keep it at a safe temperature for longer.
While you’re reorganizing your freezer and fridge chances are that you’ll find old food that you want to discard. Do not discard it since that would create open space. Use a permanent marker to make X’s on the packaging to remind yourself to throw it out once the storm has passed.
2. Use bottles and tupperware containers to freeze ice –
Your refrigerator and freezer will act like a giant ice chest when the power is out. The key is that you simply have to add ice.
Dig through your recycle bin and gather old water bottles or milk jugs to fill with water. Draw giant X’s on the bottles to keep people from drinking the water and freeze them. As the storm approaches, move some of the frozen water bottles and tupperware to the refrigerator and push the other frozen bottles into any open spots in the freezer.
The more ice you add, the longer your food items will remain cool and safe.
3. Don’t open the doors –
Anytime your power is off refrain from opening the refrigerator or freezer doors. After a storm you’ll most likely want to have access to a few items such as milk or lunch meat. Prepare an ice chest before hand and once the power goes out, put the items you need into the ice chest. After you move items to the ice chest hopefully you won’t have to open the refrigerator doors again.
4. Set the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting –
When you’re expecting a bad storm that will most likely result in a power outage, set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. The colder your appliance is before the power shuts off, the longer it will keep food cool.
Most importantly, if you doubt the safety of the food in any way, throw it out! Once perishable food reaches 40 degrees for longer than an hour or two, it is no longer safe to eat.
Yes the expense can be great to replace a lot of food but your health is worth more.