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How long will food last in your fridge and freezer without power?

How long food in fridge is safe without power

Power outages happen, and when they do you may wonder, how long will the food in my fridge and freezer be safe to eat? The answer: it depends. But don't worry, we'll walk you through it.

At Asurion, we make it easy to protect and repair your appliances. We're powered by people who understand how to help, and we can get you back up and running fast—whether your dishwasher door won't close or your refrigerator is too cold. Here's our guide for how long food will be good in your fridge and freezer without power.

How long will food last in the fridge without power?

Spoiler alert: Food should still be good in a fridge without power (or with a cold source like dry ice) for up to 4 hours if the doors stay shut.

  • It's better to err on the safe side and throw away any questionable items, especially perishable food like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and leftovers.
  • Never taste food to check if it's still good to eat.
  • Discard any food with a bad odor, color, or texture.

How long will food last in the freezer without power?

Food should be safe to eat for 48 hours in a full freezer or 24 hours in a half-full freezer if the door stayed shut during a power outage.

  • Food with ice crystals or that has remained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below may be safely refrozen, although it probably won't taste very good.
  • Never taste food to check if it's still good to eat.
  • Discard any food with a bad odor, color, or texture.

Foods to keep and throw out after a power outage

To make sure you don't get sick eating food that was stored in your fridge or freezer during a power outage, remember: If in doubt, throw it out.

Food in your fridge to throw out after a power outage:

As a rule, anything that was opened, thawing, or perishable—think spaghetti sauce, meat, fish, milk, or cut fruits or veggies—should be thrown away.

Some items may be safe to keep, including bread, hard cheeses, dried fruit, mustard, pickles, and peanut butter.

Foods in your freezer to throw out after a power outage:

Most thawed items should be thrown away. Some foods may be safe to refreeze, including breads, flour, nuts, pie crust, and juices.

Check out foodsafety.gov for a full list of what to save and throw out.

How to prepare your fridge and freezer for a power outage

The best time to plan for an outage is before you lose power. Here are some tips that will help you plan ahead:

How to prepare your fridge for a power outage:

  1. Set the temperature between 34–40 degrees Fahrenheit. On newer refrigerators, you can adjust the temperature by pressing the increase or decrease button on the digital display. If you have an older fridge with no digital display, consider buying a refrigerator thermometer to track the temperature.
  2. Fill it with food. Full refrigerators stay cold longer.
  3. Get some dry ice or block ice. If you think your power will be out for a long time—like in the case of a natural disaster—you can place ice inside the fridge to keep your food cold longer.

How to prepare your freezer for a power outage:

  1. Set the temperature to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower).
  2. Fill it with food. Full freezers stay cold longer.
  3. Freeze containers of water and gel packs. You can place these in the fridge or in a cooler to help keep food cold if the power goes out.
  4. Place a cup of water in the freezer. When the water is frozen, put a quarter on top of it. If you are away from your home for an extended time and don't know how long your power was out, check the cup when you return. If the quarter has moved to the bottom of the cup, you'll know your freezer has defrosted fully and you'll need to throw away some or all of the food.

How to keep food safe when the power goes out

There are several things you can do during a power outage to help keep your food safe for as long as possible:

  1. Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to lock the cold air inside.
  2. Place dry or block ice inside the fridge, as previously mentioned.
  3. If the power has been out for 4 hours and you have a cooler, remove perishable items from the fridge and place them in the cooler with ice and frozen gel packs.

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