Yesterday was quite an experience – at approximately 3:30pm, a power line mishap in Arizona caused a massive blackout throughout Southern California, stretching from the coast to Yuma, AZ, and from San Clemente into the Baja Peninsula, that left 4 million without power throughout a sweltering day and late into the night. If you were one of the many and you’re anything like us, one of your first thoughts was probably of your refrigerator and all its contents presumably melting inside.
But what’s the deal for real? Is all hope lost? For the answers, we turned to the best source around – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Information Service (FSIS). Thanks to their Fact Sheet on Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency, we can rest easy that most of our fridge is still undamaged goods.
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The USDA launches in with general information: “always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 °F and frozen food at or below 0 °F.” What’s the easiest way to do that? Keep your refrigerator door closed – if you can’t, get to the nearest ice chest pronto, especially if you have an industrial freezer’s worth of food products to protect.
“The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened,” reads the Fact Sheet. “A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.”
Unfortunately for us, by the time we got home all the grocery stores had closed – no ice to be found, and nothing to do but wait. So for us, the handiest part of the Fact Sheet is the chart, where the USDA FSIS breaks down, food product by food product, what can be saved and what must be tossed. Are you curious about the state of your grocery list? Don’t wait – check it out here.