Food safety tips for when power goes out

(NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's Department of Health and Human Services has food safety recommendations for those who might lose power from Tuesday's storm.

In the event that your home loses power, here are some tips:

  • Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer at all times to see if food is being stored at safe temperatures (which means 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fridge and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer)
  • Leave the freezer door closed to keep the cold air in. The Maine CDC said a full freezer should keep food safe for about two days. You can safely refreeze thawed foods that still contain ice crystals or feel cold and solid to the touch.
  • Also leave the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. Every time it's opened, cold air escapes. If the power could be off for more than six hours, the Maine CDC recommended transferring perishable food to an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs.
  • Refrigerated items should be safe as long as the power is out for no more than four to six hours. The Maine CDC said to discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two or more hours. The rule of thumb is, "when in doubt, throw it out."
  • The Maine CDC said "never taste food to determine its safety." Bacteria can multiply very rapidly. It wouldn't be good to have food poisoning while the power is out.
  • If you have more questions about food safety during a power outage, contact the USDA's Meat and Poultry hotline: 1-800-535-4555 (it's open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.).

In addition to food safety, if your family is using a generator, be sure to do so safely. The Maine CDC said one generator can produce as much carbon monoxide as 100 cars. If you're using a generator to keep appliances running, make sure the generator is in an open space, at least 15 feet away from any windows or doors, and outside the home.

There are more generator safety tips on Maine.gov.


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