Emergencies can happen. When they do, the best strategy
is to already have a plan in place. This includes
knowing the proper food and water safety precautions to
take if hurricanes — or other flooding/power outages —
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your
refrigerator and freezer.
Check to ensure that the freezer temperature is at or
below 0 °F and the refrigerator is at or below 40 °F.
In case of a power outage, the appliance thermometers
will indicate the temperatures in the refrigerator and
freezer to help you determine if the food is safe.
Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food
cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case
the power goes out. If your normal water supply is
contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also
supply drinking water.
Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and
fresh meat and poultry that you may not need
immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature
Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food
stay cold longer.
Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if
the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
Purchase or make ice cubes in advance and store in the
freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler.
Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
Check out local sources to know where dry ice and block
ice can be purchased, just in case.
Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way
of contaminated water in case of flooding.
Make sure to have a supply of bottled water stored where
it will be as safe as possible from flooding.
Power Outages: During and After - When the Power Goes
Here are basic tips for keeping food safe:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much
as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours
if it is unopened.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature for
approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if
the door remains closed.
- Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold
as possible if the power is going to be out for a
prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should
hold an 18-cubic foot fully-stocked freezer cold for two
If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry,
fish or eggs while it is still at safe temperatures,
it's important that each item is thoroughly cooked to
the proper temperature to assure that any foodborne
bacteria that may be present is destroyed. However, if
at any point the food was above 40 °F for 2 hours or
more — discard it.
fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source
For infants, try to use prepared, canned baby formula
that requires no added water. When using concentrated or
powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the
local water source is potentially contaminated.
Once Power is Restored
You'll need to determine the safety of your food. Here's
If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer,
check the temperature when the power comes back on. If
the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is
safe and may be refrozen.
If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check
each package of food to determine its safety. You can't
rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains
ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to
refreeze or cook.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power
was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator
door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as
meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been
above 40°F for two hours or more.
Keep in mind that perishable food such as meat, poultry,
seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately
refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed,
even when they are thoroughly cooked.
When Flooding Occurs — Keep Water Safe
Follow these steps to keep your WATER
during — and after — flood conditions.
Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood
waters if it is available.
If you don't have bottled water, you should boil water
to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of
disease-causing organisms that may be present.
If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths
or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for
Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it
in clean containers with covers.