The forecast for the remaining part of this week is centering on below zero degrees Fahrenheit. We often see that when that occurs so does the loss of power, either due to excessive usage or from other weather circumstances like high winds, snow or ice. Since we don't know how long the power can be out, keeping the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible can help reduce the loss of food and the potential for foodborne illness.
A refrigerator will keep food safely cold, if the doors remain unopened for about 4 hours. A full freezer will hold food about 48 hours or 24 hours if it is half full. And although it may seem like a good idea to store frozen food out in the snow, the outside temperature can vary hour by hour, allowing foods to become too warm and set the stage for foodborne bacteria to grow. In addition, unsanitary conditions may occur, such as animals coming in contact with the food. USDA recommends filling buckets, empty milk cartons, or cans with water and leaving them outside to freeze. This ice can then be used in your refrigerator or freezer to keep perishable items at the proper temperature for safety.