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Three Ways to Keep Food Safe When You Lose Power

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A photo looking out at a lightning storm.

Here are simple ways to help keep your food safe when you experience a power outage. If your loss of power is due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster, check out the Food Safety in a Disaster or Emergency section.

1. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed.
A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours, or 24 hours if it is half-full, if you don’t open the door.

2. After the power outage, check each food item separately. 

If the power outage lasts longer than 4 hours, throw away refrigerated food like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. If food in your freezer is partially or completely thawed, it can be safely re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.

3. When in doubt, throw it out.

Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch, and never taste a food to decide if it's safe.  Find specific items in our When to Save It and When to Throw It Out charts for refrigerated and frozen foods during power outages.