As I enjoy day two of no power at home due to the violent windstorms in Southern California, I’ve come across some helpful tips from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. There are so many things that can throw our power grid out of whack – from earthquakes to wildfires to winds – that it pays to know how to respond.
I was already well-stocked with candles, matches and flashlights, and our hand-crank radio came in pretty handy for info and entertainment. I’ll be replenishing those supplies shortly. Also on my to-do list (once power is restored) is to pick up an appliance thermometer for my refrigerator and freezer. I use a meat thermometer to make sure my food is cooked to a safe temperature. This new thermometer will tell me the temperature inside my appliance so I know whether the food there is safe to eat if the power has been off. They cost as little as $4.
I’ll also check to make sure my freezer is set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fridge at 40 degrees or below.
Next time the wind starts to blow, I’ll fill some containers with water and park them in the freezer in case I need the extra ice to keep things cold. I’ll also bunch items in the freezer together to help them stay cold longer. And I might move some leftovers from the fridge to the freezer to help keep them cold as long as possible.
The USDA says the refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened, and a full freezer will hold its temperature for around 48 hours if you keep the door closed. If your outage goes beyond those time limits, you’re going to lose some perishables. Food from the freezer that still contains ice crystals or measures 40 degrees Fahrenheit on a food thermometer is safe to re-freeze. But if in doubt, throw it out!