How Long Will Refrigerated Food Last After a Power Outage?

Keeping refrigerated food safe to eat is a part of our everyday lives. To prevent our food from spoiling, our refrigerators are solely dependent on the reliability of our nation’s power grid. Sometimes unforeseen disasters will occur that can cause power outages, which in turn threaten our family’s health and safety.

To prepare yourself for these situations, you need to know all safety factors for food refrigeration. Safety and family are two primary topics that no one can afford to go cheap on.

Here’s what you will learn.

What is an EMP?
What is the proper temperature for food to be stored at?
How should I prepare for an approaching storm?
How do I maintain that temperature during a power outage?
What is the correct way to store food?
How long do I have until the food goes bad?
Can I make these consumables last longer?
What do I do once the power comes back on?

How do Power Outages Occur?

Many factors can contribute to power outages and are not specific to small towns alone. CNN reports that between 2000 and 2014 there have been an all-time record of power outages. This is not only due to weather but also a rising populations with a degrading power infrastructure.
With a constantly degrading power grid, how truly safe are we?

What is an EMP?

EMP stands for Electromagnetic Pulse. They can occur naturally through lightning strikes, solar flares from the sun or even through man-made devices.

When a small EMP occurs, it can temporarily shut down or damage electronic equipment. If a large enough pulse were to occur, it could actually shut down a town’s power grid system.

By following this EMP Preparedness Guide, you’ll recognize that large-scale man-made weapons have actually been developed to create this electromagnetic field. If you would like to know more about how to get prepared for these unforeseen events, click the link below.
Get EMP Preparedness Guide

Food Refrigeration 101

Now before we get started, there is a basic understanding that I want you to follow. Adhere to these rules and your family will be just fine. Break them however and quite frankly you are gambling with your family’s health.

Prior to storing food in refrigerators and freezers, the following factors need to be considered to prepare for power outages:

  • During normal operation, an average household refrigerator should reach temperatures at or below 40°F (approximately 4°C).
  • Furthermore, during normal operation, an average household freezer should reach temperatures at or below 0°F (approximately -18°C).
  • According to the FDA, once temperature rises above 40°F for over 2 hours, all perishables within must be discarded immediately.
  • Refrigerated food is only safe to consume within 4 hours of the initial power outage. Keep in mind that this timeline drops each time the refrigerator door is opened.
  • Depending on ambient temperature, a freezer full of consumables can remain frozen for up to 48 hours.
  • Likewise, a freezer that is half full will remain that way for – you guessed it – half of the time.

Raw Meat

Undoubtedly, uncooked meats contain millions of harmful bacteria which spread through contact. Furthermore, the liquid surrounding the meat is where these little critters are most prevalent.

  • During the defrosting stage, the integrity of the plastic bags which store your food can be in question. With that in mind, if the storage bag is ever damaged or torn, immediately discard the food.
  • If the liquid from the meat has spilled onto other food, you’ll have no choice but to throw them out. It is simply not worth the risk of cleaning then eating the food with the possibility of falling ill.

Obviously NOT Obvious!

When it comes to food, there are certain rules that you can absolutely never deviate from. These are necessary for the safe consumption of your stored food.

  • Never taste foods for the purpose of determining whether it is safe to eat or not. Playing lab rat can have really serious consequences on you and your family’s health
  • Any thawed food that has been outside at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
  • Any foods that have an unusual color or a strange smell should also be thrown out immediately. When it doubt throw it out!

This is important. Many times food may visually appear to be fine. Smell on the other hand is a tell-tale sign of whether the food has gone rotten.

Preparing Your Home

Most emergencies are usually unforeseen, but being prepared is one of the best ways to accommodate your family during the disaster. Here are some tips you’ll need to ensure power outages do not cause you any more added misery.

Taking Logs

refrigerator thermometerIn order to keep track of the temperature, it is a good idea to pick up one of these cheap thermometers. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg and your family will thank you for it.

Personally, I own 4 of these. I keep 2 in the stand-up refrigerator and freezer, respectfully. Another goes in my reach-in chest freezer. The last one is for ambient temperature around the house.

Besides being able to tell the humidity level, they are extremely accurate. Most of all, if you feel it is out of calibration, there is an option to recalibrate the reading.

Move Quickly

If freezer space permits, keep frozen water in various jugs and containers. When the power goes out, this will ensure that your food remains at the correct temperature for as long as possible. Also, from a survival point of view, once the ice melts, you will have clean drinking water.

Transfer all refrigerated perishables into the freezer immediately after a power outage occurs. There, they will have the greatest chance of remaining at its proper temperature the longest.

Make Your Own Power

Power outages can easily last longer than four hours. The absolute best way to be prepared is to purchase your own power. Nowadays, a small, portable generator is a lot cheaper than you would think. Read this generator review guide to figure out exactly which one you’ll need.

Solar power is never a bad option. It’s great for the environment and even better on your electric bill. Don’t miss out on this DIY Solar PV Guide to learn how to truly go Off the Grid.

For years, I struggled with the thought that purchasing my own Photo-Voltaic system would be out of the question. There was no way my family could afford paying tens of thousands of dollars.

Yes, I was given the pitch by dozens of those guys in Home Depot and even Costco. I get it, they work for the company and make sales off of commissions. But, the math didn’t add up.

I just couldn’t see myself paying $20,000+ to get P.V. set up at our home. After doing the math (even with the Federal “Go Green” Rebate), I simply couldn’t afford my own solar panel system.

Some time goes by, and again, my Electrical Engineering friend bailed me out again. He showed me a guide that even someone like me with Zero experience in electrical work could benefit from. Click on the link below to learn more about how to build your own complete Photo-Voltaic system.

Get DIY Photo-Voltaic Guide Now.
*Once again, for the record, I have absolutely ZERO experience in an electrical background and although it took me some time, I completed the project with ease.


Buy a Bullet-Proof Cooler

Yeti cooler - last one you will needYou need to have coolers on hand. Once the temperatures in the refrigerators start to rise after the four hour limit, you’re gambling with your health.

During power outages, people usually don’t rush to stores for supplies since there’s no telling how long it will last. You, on the other hand are smarter and much more prepared than that.

If there’s a place nearby that sells ice, it would definitely be wise to spend that $5. Most people don’t realize that they’ll need it until it’s too late. Modern coolers can keep ice that will keep your food stored much longer than you think.

For instance the Yeti Tundra Cooler is equipped with a ridiculous 3 inches PermaFrost insulation. Because they are designed and manufactured in the U.S., they are constructed with “heavy-duty” mindset. This is the last cooler you will ever need.

Most importantly, Yeti coolers will hold ice for up to 7 days. I recommend taking a look at this video below to determine if something like this is for you. Personally, I own 3 YETI Coolers, because I honestly just like having the best of whatever is out there.

When Power is Restored

This is after the power comes back and you can start reclaiming as much food as you can. This stage is crucial to making sure that what you are stocking is good. Follow up with these points:

  • If the freezer thermometer is still below 400F, the food is safe for refreezing but if not, all the perishable foods should be thrown out.
  • Let’s say that you did not have a thermometer, food will only be deemed safe if there are ice crystals on it and it’s still hard frozen.
  • Always remember the four hour rule. If the food was in the refrigerator for more than four hours with no power, do not eat any of the perishables.

Let’s Recap

With the proper preparations, you can greatly reduce the risk of family members getting sick. With the proper preparation in place, you can get through almost anything.

Preparedness is measured in different levels, and you will be rewarded differently for the level of effort you put in.

At the very least, you should transfer your refrigerated food to the freezer and hope for the best. But, to be fully prepared, I recommend taking a look at the portable generator review guide we’ve provided for you.

The cherry on top would be to have your power be self-sustaining and go off the grid with a simple DIY Solar PV Kit.

All in all, play things on the conservative side and you’ll be fine. Just remember that when in doubt, throw it out.

I hope you have enjoyed this guide. I do this for free, for you, The People. In return, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared this on your social media accounts. Please, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below and share this article to help me keep writing free posts :o).

I wish you all the best on your prepping journey.
Stay safe and take care.
Very Respectfully,
Jimmy Rourke

Pssst… I have one last thing for ya.

A friend of mine whom I’ve known for some 20-odd years gave me a tip a little while back. He’s an electrical engineer who lives as close to “Off The Grid” as it gets.

He lives far from the city and stumbled across a secret method to recondition old, dead batteries back to nearly 97% full life. I know him personally, but he of course goes by the name Frank “The Battery Man”.

Anyway, he offers a simple, Step-by-Step Guide on the reconditioning process that even an average guy like myself can easily follow. I have since saved hundreds of dollars on several car, truck, and ATV batteries.

Click the link below to see for yourself.

Get Secret Battery Reconditioning Guide

Follow Mixed Crafts – Emergency Preparedness Survival Training on WordPress.com

If you’d like to get in touch with me or anyone on my team, please contact us here.

Sign Up For FREEBIES in Mixed Crafts Newsletter!

If you were unable to find the information that you wanted, please feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Also, feel free to check out these FREE Kindle books available for download to your PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android. Did I mention that they are ABSOLUTELY FREE? All I ask is that you share these resources to help your fellow brothers and sisters. We’re all in this together!

Jimmy Rourke

I’m on a mission to give you simplified and actionable Emergency Preparedness advice. My commitment is to making sure the lessons can be easily followed by regular people with busy lives.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments