Refrigerators and Freezers
After the Event
- A full freezer will stay cold many hours longer than a freezer only one-quarter full.
- A freezer full of meat will not warm up as fast as a freezer full of baked goods.
- The colder the food, the longer it will stay frozen.
- A well-insulated freezer will keep food frozen much longer than one with little insulation.
- The larger the freezer, the longer the food will stay frozen.
- In the event of a power outage, to prolong food-preserving temperature, open refrigerators and freezers only as necessary. Transfer beverages to a separate/portable cooler with ice. It is better to go in and out of a portable cooler than the refrigerator. This will help maintain the refrigerator/freezer temperature for a longer period of time.
- Partial thawing and re-freezing does reduce the quality of foods, particularly fruits, vegetables and prepared foods. Food that has thawed may be safely re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals or if it is still cold - about 40 degrees Fahrenheit - and has been at this temperature no longer than one or two days after thawing. Thawed fruits can be re-frozen if they still taste and smell good. A small amount of fermentation will not make fruits dangerous to eat; however, it may spoil their flavor.
- Care should be taken in determining whether or not thawed meat and poultry should be re-frozen. Meats and poultry become unsafe to eat when they start to spoil. Therefore, each package of food should be examined before determining whether or not it should be re-frozen. If the color or odor of the thawed food is poor or questionable, dispose of it, as it may be dangerous to eat. Red meats are affected less than many other foods.
- Do not eat melted ice cream.
- When power returns, clean the freezer before refilling it. Re-freeze the food in your freezer quickly by turning the temperature control on the freezer to the coldest setting. Place warmer packages against the refrigerated surface if possible, but stack them so air can circulate around them. After the food is well frozen, turn the temperature control to its usual setting. If the freezer is too full, move some of the colder packages to the refrigerator, and return them to the freezer gradually.
- If re-freezing the thawed food is not possible, canning it may be the only practical solution to saving most, if not all, of it.
- Foods that have been frozen and thawed require the same care as foods that have never been frozen. Use refrozen food as soon as possible.
Updated March 2013