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August 23, 2011

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Hurricanes and storms can cause power outages and lead to food safety concerns.

As Hurricane Irene approaches protect your food by being prepared.


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If the power goes out what can I keep?

Foods that can safely be stored above 41°F for a few days include:

  • whole non-cut fresh fruits and vegetables,
  • ketchup, relishes, olives, jams and jellies, mustard,
  • barbecue sauce, soy sauce, bread, rolls, bagels, 
  • cakes (without cream or custard), cookies and muffins 
  • and certain hard cheeses.
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that have been kept at 41° F or below.

With the door closed, food in most freezers will stay below 41° F for up to 3 days, even in summer. Thawing rate depends on:

  • amount of food in the freezer
  • kind of food
  • temperature of the food
  • size and insulation of freezer

Fill up empty space in your freezer with ice to help frozen food last longer when the power goes out.

Be prepared for when the power goes out

  • Place a thermometer in your fridge and freezer.
  • Have a tip-sensitive digital thermometer ready to check foods.
  • Have items that don’t require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on an outdoor grill.
  • Freeze containers of water for ice and to help keep food cold in the appliances.
  • Plan ahead by preparing coolers and knowing where dry ice and block ice suppliers are.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

August 24, 2011