As northerners count down the days until the winter storm season ends, southern and coastal communities are bracing for hurricane season, which begins on June 1. Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project is calling for 13 named storms this year. Five are likely to become hurricanes. Two may strengthen into major storms (Category 3 or higher).
Reliable cold storage is imperative for families, medical centers, restaurants, and grocery stores during and after a storm. It could be a matter of life and death. That is why it is crucial to prepare your home and business for a power outage. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you preserve perishable items during and after a storm.
Preserving Personal and Retail Products During a Power Outage
With some simple preventative measures in place, you can easily safeguard your family’s food and your business’ inventory:
- Place appliance thermometers in all of your freezers and refrigerators so that you can ensure your perishables are at a safe temperature for consumption during a power outage. 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less in a refrigerator and 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less in a freezer is considered safe.
- Before the storm hits, fill plastic storage bags or small containers with water and freeze them. If the power goes out, use them to fit around food in the refrigerator and freezer to keep food cold.
- Freeze leftovers, milk and meat that you do not need immediately to keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Figure out where you may be able to purchase dry or block ice to put in coolers with your perishables in case the power is out for more than four hours.
- Limit the number of times you open the refrigerator and freezer. A refrigerator will stay cold for roughly four hours and a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours with minimal opening.
- Fill your washing machine with ice and place perishable items inside to keep them colder longer. Once the ice has melted, the water will drain just like it would if you had run a load of laundry.
- Purchase a generator or to keep necessities like AC/heat, cell phone chargers and refrigerators running or alternate cold storage to preserve perishables.
- Many vaccines will retain their properties despite slight changes in temperature, however, more sensitive vaccines like MMR or Varivax may be compromised, so it is important to monitor the temperature of the cold storage they are in.
- The CDC recommends that vaccine providers establish agreements with other facilities, such as hospitals, to serve as emergency storage facilities during power outages.
Recovering from a Power Outage
Once the storm has passed and power has returned, it’s important to evaluate all perishable items and throw away anything that may have been compromised:
- Check the thermometers you placed inside your refrigerator and freezer and throw out any items that have been above the minimum temperature for two hours or more.
- Throw out any items that have an unusual odor, color or texture.
- Do not taste test a food to determine if it is safe. When in doubt, throw it out.
- If your home or business flooded, do not eat anything that may have come into contact with the water.
Other Cold Storage Solutions
Refrigerated containers are the ultimate solution to preserving food and pharmaceuticals during and after natural disasters. These containers provide customers with a consistent temperature-controlled space that runs on a generator, so you can keep temperatures low even when power is lost.
It’s never too early to start preparing for the next storm season and putting measures in place to ensure that your personal and business inventory will be protected during a power outage.
Yesterday we received several postcards from HVAC service companies selling their air conditioner seasonal tune-up services. In order for an HVAC system to work efficiently, the unit requires a little attention.
Similar to your home air conditioner, it’s time to tune-up your cold storage unit. A simple review of your cold storage system will guarantee your unit is operating as efficiently as possible and, ultimately, maintaining the quality of your product. As we change seasons, pollen and dust are the biggest culprits that negatively impact the operation of our machinery.
As the April showers bring May flowers, consider the following Spring maintenance:
Clean your condenser fans and coils
Debris (i.e. dirt, pollen, leaves, etc.) accumulates on the fan and in between the condenser coil fins of your cooling equipment. Prolonged buildup of dirt will force the unit to work harder and longer. This will ultimately hinder the machine’s performance. Turn your unit off and give the coils a simple rinse with a garden hose.
Check your evaporator coils
On our machines the evaporator coils are not exposed to the outside elements. However, they can still build up with dirt and excess ice. For maximum cooling, you must make sure the evaporator coils are clean and free of ice and dirt that impede the airflow. Moreover, excess ice on the evaporator coils may also impact the micro’s sensors. The best way to clean the coils is to empty the cargo and run the unit at 70 degrees. When any/all ice has melted, just rinse the coils clean.
Visually examine the portable storage container – inside and out
When we do a visual “360” of the unit, we are looking for the following, but not limited to:
- Worn or cut gaskets;
- Fully operational and properly seated doors;
- Holes on the interior or exterior;
- Height and location of the cargo inside the unit;
- Position of the Fresh Air Vent on the outside/back panel of the unit;
- Vinyl curtains installed and fitted properly;
- Clean drains of dirt/debris.
Choose the correct lighting
Do you still have incandescent lighting inside your portable storage container? You might consider changing to LEDs. Aside from energy savings from using lower wattage lighting, consider the amount of heat produced when the 3 x 100 watt bulbs are left on. An incandescent bulb is an extremely inefficient light source. According to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, a 100-watt bulb is 2.1% efficient. In other words, it produces about 2 watts of light and 98 watts of heat.
It doesn’t require a special technician to maintain your portable storage container. Instead, following these basic tips will guarantee you are operating the cold storage unit efficiently.
Whether you are operating a hospital, manufacturing pharmaceuticals, distributing food, or managing food service, one of your priorities is safe cold storage of your product. We ask our customers two questions:
- What do you plan to do if your walk-in cooler or freezer crashes?
- Are you prepared for the warmer weather?
Without any redundancy, you wait for the repair technician to arrive. Unfortunately, as you wait for the technician to arrive, temperatures begin to rise. You begin to experience costly product loss. Suppose that product was for a hospital or grocery store? Imagine the possible bacteria or contamination that occurs while you wait for the technician. Worse still: imagine the liabilities of distributing affected product[s].
Time to consider your backup cold storage redundancy!
Having a backup cold storage unit on site offers you the insurance policy necessary to safely continue conducting your business. The backup unit can immediately preserve your product. Moreover, the backup unit creates peace of mind for both you and your customers. Is there anything more valuable than:
- Customer satisfaction;
- Lowering your costs; and/or
- Reducing waste?
In an ideal scenario, businesses can simultaneously operate a primary and backup walk-in cooler. Of course, this requires considerable capital investment. You will also need building certificates/approvals. Additionally, you may need to purchase real estate and/or production space to accommodate the structures.
A more commercially viable alternative to consider is portable cold storage. Portable cold storage offers businesses all the benefits of refrigeration/freezer redundancy. Additionally, portable cold storage does not require any major capital investment or building certificates. Adding a portable cold storage container does not typically impact a business’s production space. They can be domiciled outside in a parking lot. Portables360 offers refrigerated or freezer containers that come in two standard sizes (20′ x 8′ x 8’6″ or 40′ x 8′ 9’6). Similar to a walk-in, these units are fully-programmable. They have the capability of maintaining temperatures ranging from -20°F to +70°F (-28C – 21C). Since the units are portable, they can be used for either short-term or long-term refrigeration/freezer solutions. Moreover, they are electric. Plus they can be positioned inside a building, at a loading dock, or grounded in a parking lot. These units operate similar to your walk-in coolers.
For more information, contact Portables360 at (844) 767-8360 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shipping and/or cold storage containers have become increasingly popular with the general public because of their multiple uses. People have upcycled these containers to use as homes and workshops or as solutions for personal storage space. What is less known is the fact that refrigerated containers are also available for public use.
Some of the benefits that you could enjoy from a refrigerated container include:
Seasonal Food Storage
Reduce the amount of loss you have after harvesting your crops. By placing the food items into cold storage, you can keep these foods fresher for an extended period. Easy way to increase and protect your harvest. Climate-controlled units are easy to set up and use. These units can also be customized.
Restaurant Food Storage
Restaurants often face issues when trying to expand. Limited space means limited areas for food storage. Sadly, one of the most viable cold storage solutions is overlooked by restaurant owners: refrigerated storage containers. These containers can hold food at the right temperature to meet all health codes and can easily be placed at the rear of the property for convenience and aesthetic purposes.
Grocery Store Cold Storage
Buying in bulk allows grocery stores to keep prices down and offer sale items to their customers. Storing these bulk purchases can be a challenge. Using a customized cold storage container can help solve these problems cost-effectively and conveniently.
Outdoor or Indoor Events
Festivals, fairs, and sporting events almost always involve food and drink areas. Organizers for these events need reliable cold storage solutions to meet the demands of their patrons. Many of these events take place in open areas where typical food storage is not available. Cold storage containers can hold food and drinks at the right temperature for the length of your event.
Construction or Job Site Cold Storage
Construction sites often need cold storage solutions for their crew. There are several reasons that construction sites may need this type of storage. Storing chemicals or other hazardous materials that need to be temperature regulated or having cold drinks and food products available for the crew are two great reasons for this type of storage on a job site. Additionally, a storage unit can be converted to office space.
Natural Disasters – Emergency Situations
When a natural disaster or national emergency occurs, there is a vital need for cold storage. Many medicines and food and water need to be brought into these areas and need to be able to be preserved. Areas that are lacking electricity or sometimes standing buildings have nowhere to house these necessities. Using refrigerated containers run by generators can solve this problem and bring help to those in need.
These are only 6 of the top reasons for cold storage containers. There are many more, to be sure. Portables 360 works with their customers to create custom refrigerated storage solutions.