Power outage occurs. Are you prepared? As northerners count down the days until the winter storm season ends, southern and coastal communities are bracing for hurricane season. The season 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.