Blizzard 2013: Preparation & Getting Through It
WebMD News Archive
Q: Once the power is out, how long will refrigerated foods last?
Refrigerated foods, once the power is off, will stay cold for about four to six hours. To increase the time, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
If a freezer is full, the temperature will be maintained for about 48 hours. If it's half full of food, figure 24 hours.
Q: What foods should be eaten first, after power is off?
Start by eating leftovers, meat, poultry, and any foods with milk, cream, soft cheese, or sour cream.
If frozen foods still contain ice crystals, they may still be safely cooked and eaten (or re-frozen, if power is restored).
Fruits that were frozen can be eaten if they still taste and smell good.
Vegetables that are completely thawed shouldn't be eaten, since bacteria multiply quickly.
If meat or poultry has thawed and has been warmer than 40 degrees F for two hours, discard it.
Discard melted ice cream.
Some foods typically refrigerated keep at room temperature for a few days. Among them: butter, margarine, hard cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables (except sprouts or fresh, sliced fruit), fruit juice, dried fruits, or coconut. Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressing, jelly, relishes, taco sauce, and barbecue sauce are typically also OK to eat. Mustard, ketchup, and olives generally keep at room temperature for a few days, too.
Q: Can I put food from the refrigerator and freezer out in the snow?
That's not safe. Frozen food can thaw if it is exposed to the sun's rays. That can happen even if the outside temperatures are very cold.
Q: What precautions do I need to take for medications that need refrigeration, such as insulin or reconstituted drugs?
If power has been out for a lengthy period, throw them out. However, if you have no way to obtain new supplies and the medicine is crucial, such as insulin, continue to take it until you can get fresh supplies.
Pills that have gotten wet should be discarded, as they could be contaminated.
Q: What about water? If we run out, what supplies can we tap?
Use ice, soft drinks, and fruit juices as water substitutes.
Check hidden sources of water: the hot water tank, or water in the plumbing. These water supplies need to be disinfected, though.
To disinfect by boiling, bring water to a rolling boil for one or two minutes, then cool. •In an emergency -- if no other water is available -- snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs, but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
Q: What is the best way to stay warm if there is a power outage?