Be Prepared For Nature’s Surprises

Parts of South Carolina suffered through severe weather this winter and now we’re approaching hurricane season. Despite your cooperative’s best efforts, these acts of nature can cause power outages.

Clemson Extension Service offers these tips for dealing with perishable foods during power outages:
• When severe weather is forecast, turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. The colder the food is before a power failure, the longer it will last.
• Buy two appliance thermometers to keep on hand. These are available at home improvement and specialty stores. During a period when a power outage is expected, keep one thermometer in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer to keep track of temperatures. For the refrigerator, temperatures cannot drop below 40 degrees for foods to be safe; for a freezer, the temp should not drop below 0 degrees.
• When bad weather is predicted, fill plastic bags with water and freeze them. Keep the freezer well packed with these bags.
• Group meat and poultry to one side of your freezer or on separate trays to be sure they do not leak on one another should they begin to thaw.
• Keep extra coolers and freezer-pak inserts on hand to add to the freezer and coolers if a power outage appears imminent.
• Know where you can buy dry ice. Use three pounds of dry ice per cubic foot of freezer space. A 50-pound block of dry ice placed in a full 18-cubic-foot freezer should keep food safe without electricity for two days.
• When handling dry ice, be sure to wear rubber gloves or use tongs. Keep the space well ventilated, as dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.
• When power returns, check the thermometers in the freezer and refrigerator. Discard any perishable that has been stored above 40 degrees for two hours or more and any food that is unusual is color, odor or texture.
• Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals can be refrozen unless they have been stored above 40 degrees for more than two hours.
• Thawed foods that do not contain ice crystals but have been kept at 40 degrees or below for two days or less may be cooked, then refrozen or canned.
• For more information, visit hgic.clemson.edu or call (888) 656-9988.

Source: Adapted from The State newspaper