What to Know
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed throughout a power outage to keep perishable foods cold
- Turn down the temperature dials all the way now; fill freezer with water jugs or dry ice
- PG&E will not offer reimbursement for food losses because the power outages are planned for public safety reasons
With some 800,000 PG&E customers losing power this week, many families might be worried about losing hundreds of dollars worth of groceries as their refrigerators and freezers go quiet.
The good news: if you take a few simple steps now, you might be able to keep that food cold, even without electricity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes several recommendations for saving frozen and refrigerated food:
- Keep the doors closed. Every time you open your refrigerator during a blackout, precious cold air will escape — and it will be replaced by warmer room-temperature air.
- A half-stocked freezer will keep food frozen for 24 hours. Remember to place meat and poultry on one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
- A Fully-stocked freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours. Need to fill some space? Just add water — in jugs or bottles. Keep in mind, ice expands as it freezes, so leave some extra space in the container.
- Turn the thermostat controls down to the lowest temperature settings. This can help everything stay colder, longer.
- Pack dry ice in your freezer. Many grocery stores sell this, and its temperature is more than 100° below freezing!
- Keep a few days' worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling