When there is a power outage, the first thing we worry about is the food in our fridges. Nowadays, we have become very dependent on this device. Thanks to refrigerators, we can have a variety of food items on hand. We can store leftovers and large quantities of produce for future use. They’re also a welcome distraction from the monotony of work – don’t we tend to open them to check for snacks when we’re bored? Refrigerators provide refuge in more ways than one. Hence, we must know how to act when the electricity breaks down or goes out for long periods. This will enable us to reduce food waste and also avoid health problems. Here’s what to do when your refrigerator stops working.
5 easy ways to deal with food when the refrigerator stops working:
1. Get rid of perishable foods
Unfortunately, you can’t keep cut-up fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, milk, and leftovers in the refrigerator four hours after the power is out. Note that dairy products like yoghurt, dahi, laban, cream, sour cream, etc. also fall under this category. These perishable items require constant and sufficient refrigeration in order to be safe to eat. One way to salvage this situation is to consume as much of these foods as possible right after the blackout.
(Also Read: Does Your Refrigerator Smell Bad? Here’s How You Can Get Rid Of Those Strong Smells)
2. Use an alternate cooling source
If you have a cooler or container of dry ice on hand, you can use it to store perishable items on a temporary basis. However, depending on the prevailing weather conditions, you may still have to get rid of some of them later. An important point to keep in mind is to keep the temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4.44 degrees Celsius). If you can do that, you can refreeze them after your refrigerator is working again. This also applies to items stored in the freezer such as processed snacks and some meats. You can use a food thermometer or appliance to check the temperature of food items and check for ice crystals on them.
3. Check and keep non-perishable items
Uncut fruits and vegetables, butter, certain types of hard cheese, condiments, sealed liquids, and bread are usually fine even if they are not constantly refrigerated. Jelly, mustard, peanut butter, olives, and pickles are generally safe, while open jars of other sauces (salad dressing, mayonnaise) should be thrown away. However, this all depends on outside temperatures and humidity conditions. Bacteria may start to form on some of these items as well, so check them closely before eating them. If its texture, smell, or color seems fishy, don’t taste it. It is better to get rid of them than to risk infection.
(Also read: How Long Can You Store Leftovers: Details Inside)
4. Keep the refrigerator closed
Be very strategic about removing foods from the refrigerator after a power outage. Do not keep opening the door to check the items inside. Keeping it closed allows the interiors to stay cool for a longer period of time. This way, if the machine starts working before the four hour window, perishable items can still be saved. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, keeping the freezer doors closed can keep the food inside safe for 1 to 2 days (depending on how full the freezer is).
(Also read: Watch: 5 Healthy Vegetables You Should Store in the Freezer, According to Experts)
5. Prepare ahead
Refrigerators may sometimes stop working for technical reasons that we have no control over. But if you live in an area that is prone to frequent power outages, it’s best to make arrangements in advance. Consider investing in the previously mentioned portable coolers and thermometers. Remember that coolers can only store a limited amount of food and you may need to add layers of ice or frozen packs (which will also take up space). Therefore, you have to be smart in choosing which foods to keep them in. You might rush to save on perishable or expensive items, but consider the length of the power outage. Refrigerants are not a permanent solution.
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