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Drew: Food Safety During a Power Outage

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By Samuetta Hill Drew


Alabama has experienced more tornado warnings of any state in the Union so far in 2022. Our numbers have surpassed both Mississippi and believe it or not, Texas, which traditionally has more than us. Because of this information, I believed it was prudent for me to extend the safety articles about power outages beyond August as originally intended.
Since Alabama is one of a few states that has two tornado seasons – fall and spring, the topic of food safety during a power outage I believed to be relative, because its potential impact is the same regardless of the season. Therefore, two additional safety articles were added to address this topic. The information contained is this week’s article comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Refrigerated or frozen food may not be safe to eat after the loss of power. Below are some recommendations on how to keep your food safe during a power outage from the CDC:

BEFORE
• Keep appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
The freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES OR NATURAL DISASTERS
• Freeze containers of water and gel packs to help keep your food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
• Have a cooler and frozen gel packs handy in case you must remove your food from the refrigerator to keep it cold.
• Buy dry ice or block ice to keep your food cold in the refrigerator, if you think the power will be out for a long time.

DURING
• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
• If the doors stay closed, food will stay safe for up to:
1. 4 hours in a refrigerator
2. 48 hours in a full freezer; 24 hours in a half-full freezer.
• If the power has been out for four hours, and a cooler and ice are available, put refrigerated perishable foods in the cooler. To keep them at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, add ice or a cold source like frozen gel packs.

Next week’s safety article will continue with more recommendations about what to do after the power is back on. Also, how to Keep an Eye on Safety by knowing when you need to throw away food that could make you sick will be addressed.