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Power Outages

How long can I keep food in my home refrigerator if the power is out?
How long can I keep food in my home freezer if the power is out?
What should food service operators do during power outages?
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
How do I prevent hypothermia?
Where can I get more information?

How long can I keep food in my home refrigerator if the power is out?
Perishable foods can be maintained in an unopened refrigerator for up to four hours. Refrigerated foods should be disposed of after four hours without electricity.

Potentially hazardous foods at temperatures above 41ºF will allow bacteria to rapidly multiply to unsafe levels which can cause illness if eaten.

If food has been in a refrigerator less than four hours without power, it may be placed in a cooler to protect it from animals and other environmental hazards. The cooler can then be placed outside or in an un-insulated garage, provided that the temperature stays below 41ºF.

Foodsafety.gov guide for refrigerated foods

How long can I keep food in my home freezer if the power is out?
Frozen foods in unopened freezers can generally maintain safe temperatures for up to 24 hours if the freezer is half-full and up to 48 hours if completely full.

A food thermometer should be used to determine the temperature of food items to be sure they are safe. When in doubt, perishable foods that may have been out of the safe temperature range should be disposed of to prevent illness.  

Foodsafety.gov guide for frozen foods

What should food service operators do during power outages?Power lines
Food establishments, including restaurants, affected by a power outage must be extremely careful to protect the public and customers from food borne illnesses related to consumption of unsafe foods. Any perishable food items that can not be ensured to have remained below 41ºF while refrigerated should be voluntarily discarded.
 
Frozen foods are to be kept at 0ºF or below. Food in a freezer without electricity that has maintained a temperature below 41ºF can be used or refrozen once power is available. However, if freezer foods can not be assured of having been kept below 41ºF, they should be discarded.
 
It is extremely important that food establishments take all precautions necessary to prevent food borne illnesses and err on the side of being overly careful when in doubt.
 
During periods of power outages in Northern Kentucky, the Health Department will work with local food operators to make sure that food safety standards are being maintained. To report a power outage at a food establishment to the Health Department, please call 859.341.4151.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

More info on CO poisoning is at http://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm


How do I prevent hypothermia?

Hypothermia can result when the body’s temperature drops below what is necessary to maintain normal bodily functions. In severe cases or when the body is not warmed properly, death can result.

To prevent hypothermia, wear appropriate clothing and limit the time you spend outdoors. Layer clothes made of synthetic and wool fabrics, which are best for keeping warm. Remember to wear hats, coats, scarves and gloves.

Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, altered speech pattern, abnormally slow rate of breathing, cold pale skin and lethargy. Seek medical attention if you experiences signs of hypothermia. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.

Hypothermia fact sheet


Where can I get more information?
You can visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.341.4151.