What to Do with Your Food If You Lose Power to Your Fridge

Male,worker,repairing,refrigerator,with,screwdriver,in,houseLosing power to your fridge can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have a refrigerator full of perishable food. Knowing what to do in this situation is crucial to prevent food waste and potential foodborne illnesses. Here are some steps you can take to properly handle your food if you lose power to your fridge.

1. Assess the duration of the power outage

The first step is to assess the expected duration of the power outage. If you anticipate that the power will be restored within a few hours, your food will likely remain safe if you keep the refrigerator door closed. However, if the power outage is expected to last longer than four hours, it’s time to take further action.

2. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed

Regardless of the duration of the power outage, it’s important to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. This will help maintain the cold temperature inside, preserving the quality and safety of the food for a longer period. Opening the doors frequently can cause the temperature inside to rise rapidly, leading to quicker spoilage.

3. Use a thermometer to monitor temperature

To ensure that your food remains safe, use a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should ideally be at or below 40°F (4°C), while the freezer should be at or below 0°F (-18°C). If the temperature rises above these thresholds, it’s time to take action.

4. Utilize coolers and ice

When the power outage is expected to last longer than four hours and the temperature inside the refrigerator rises above 40°F (4°C), it’s best to transfer your perishable food items to coolers with ice. This will help maintain a safe temperature for a longer duration. Pack the coolers tightly to minimize empty space, as a full cooler will hold the temperature better than a partially filled one.

5. Group food by type and priority

As you transfer your food to the coolers, it’s important to group them by type and prioritize what should be consumed first. Perishable items such as dairy products, meats, and leftovers should be consumed before other less perishable items like condiments or canned goods. This way, you minimize potential food waste and ensure that the most perishable items are consumed first.

6. Consider alternative cold storage options

If the power outage is prolonged and you have access to alternative cold storage options, such as a neighbor or friend with power, you may consider temporarily storing your food there. However, ensure that the alternative storage location maintains a safe temperature for storing perishable food. It is also important to label your items and keep track of what you have stored where to prevent confusion or waste.

7. Plan your meals

During a power outage, planning your meals becomes paramount to minimize food waste. Consider using perishable items first and preparing meals that can be cooked on a stovetop or a grill, if possible. By planning ahead, you can utilize your available food resources efficiently and reduce the risk of food spoilage.

8. Discard potentially hazardous food

If the power outage lasts for an extended period and the temperature inside the refrigerator rises above 40°F (4°C) for an extended period of time, you may need to discard potentially hazardous food. This includes perishable items like raw meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products, as well as cooked food that has been in the danger zone (above 40°F) for more than two hours. It’s better to err on the side of caution to prevent foodborne illnesses.

9. Clean and sanitize

Once the power is restored, clean and sanitize your refrigerator and freezer before restocking them with food. Use a solution of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach mixed with one gallon of water to sanitize the interior surfaces. Discard any food that may have spoiled during the power outage and clean out any melted ice or water from the coolers.


Remember, when it comes to food safety during a power outage, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pay attention to temperature, group and prioritize your food, and plan your meals accordingly. By taking these steps, you can minimize food waste and ensure the safety of the food you consume.

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