Hurricane Survival: Food Safety Tips When The Power is Out

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There’s Something Green in the Refrigerator . . .

. . . but don’t worry, it’s supposed to be green, it’s broccoli!

We all know about the importance of stocking up on non-perishable foods before the hurricane season starts (just in case) but what about the stuff that we all have lurking in our freezers and refrigerators. Once the power goes out is it safe to eat this stuff? Some of it could have been there for days already (or weeks maybe!), so what’s a rule of thumb? Once the freezer starts to thaw . . . how safe is it to eat the contents? It’s all about keeping things as cool as possible for as long as possible.

Food Safety Facts

Let’s look at the facts (from unnamed officials . . . those who get paid to ask experts about these things):

  • Refrigerated food will go bad within a couple of hours in temperatures of 40 degrees or more, that’s not long is it, 2 hours. Better get scoffing quick, or try to keep the temperatures down.
  • If your freezer is full the food should be okay to eat for up to 2 days after the power has gone, but if your freezer is only half full it will only last for up to 1 day. If, on the other hand, your freezer is a rather pathetic specimen of food storage and home only to half a sliced loaf and a pack of frozen peas . . . eat them immediately (pea sandwiches . . . you’ve got to make sacrifices in an emergency you know, especially if you’re not fully prepared).
  • The best way to keep the stuff frozen is for you to push everything together, a little frozen huddle in the corner of your freezer
  • The best way to keep your refrigerator and your freezer cool is to keep the door firmly closed . . . so don’t spend too long pushing all of your frozen stuff into a huddle.
  • Don’t put warm leftovers into the refrigerator . . . that will only warm it up!

Other Ways to Tell If Food is Good Enough to Eat

  • The sight test – if there are green things growing on it – chuck it out. If your chicken is green and your broccoli is black – chuck it out. If your cheese has furry bits – chuck it out. If the icecream has dripped all over the floor – mop it up and chuck the rest of it out.
  • The smell test – there are different categories of this one. If the stench sends you reeling when you open the refrigerator door you need to make a quick investigation and locate the guilty party. Rotten food spreads . . . you know the old “one bad apple” routine, well, it can spoil the whole bunch, and I don’t care what The Osmonds have told you.

(just in case you didn’t know what I was talking about . . . how on earth did I get from hurricanes to The Osmonds . . . it’s a worry)

  • The smell test continued – if, however, your refrigerator smells “okay” when you open the door but then some offending pieces of sausage fill the room with toxic fumes when you open up the packet . . . don’t eat them, it doesn’t matter how much barbecue sauce you add to mask the flavor . . . don’t eat them!

Top Food Safety Tip

If in doubt . . . CHUCK IT OUT! Hell, you’re probably in enough hurricane trouble without having to try to make it to the medical center too.

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