EMA - Power Outages


  Emergency Management Agency
Vermilion County, Illinois

Ted Fisher, Director
2507 Georgetown Road
Danville, IL 61832
Phone:  (217) 443-6010
Fax: (217) 443-6653




Power Outages
Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they are prolonged.  Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours.

If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned, but how do you save your food when the refrigerator is out for longer times? Being prepared can help.  By planning ahead, you can save your perishables.
What do I need?
One or more coolers.  Inexpensive styrofoam coolers can do an excellent job as well.

Ice Surrounding your food with ice in a cooler will ensure that it will stay cold.

Shelf-stable foods, such as canned goods and powdered or boxed milk.  These can be eaten cold or heated on the grill.

A digital quick-response
thermometer.  A digital thermometer should be a necessity in your kitchen anyway.  With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatues of food for doneness and safety.
What to do...
Tell your little ones not to open the door.  An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours at least.  A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.  (See chart below for more details.)

If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and leftovers into your
cooler surrounded by ice.

If it looks like the power outage will be
prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.

What should be discarded after a power outage?
As soon as the power returns, check temperatures.  If the food in the freezer has ice crystals and is not above 40 degrees, you can refreeze.  Perishable foods in the refrigerator should not be above 40 degrees F for more than two hours. 

Use this chart to see what has to be discarded and what can be kept.
Frozen Foods Still Contains Ice Crystals.
Not above 40 degrees F
Thawed, Held Above 40 degrees F for over 2 hours
Meat and Mixed Dishes:    
Beef, veal, lamb, pork, poultry, ground meat and poultry Refreeze Discard
Casseroles with meat, pasta, rice, egg or cheese base, stews, soups, convenience foods, pizza Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze
May be some texture & Flavor loss
Milk Refreeze
May lose some quality
Eggs (out of shell), egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft), cream cheese, ricotta Refreeze
May lose some texture
Hard cheese (cheddar, Swiss, parmesan) Refreeze Refreeze
Fruits and Vegetables:    
Fruit juices Refreeze Refreeze
Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops
Home or commercially packaged fruit Refreeze
Will change texture & flavor
Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops
Vegetable juices Refreeze Discard if above 50 degrees F for over 8 hours
Home or commercially packaged or blanched vegetables Refreeze
Will change texture & flavor
Discard if above 50 degrees F for over 8 hours
Baked Goods Baking Ingredients:    
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
Pie crusts, breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (no custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries, with custard or cheese filling, cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze
May lose some quality
Considerable quality loss
Refrigerator Foods Food still cold, held at 40 degrees F or above under 2 hours Held Above 40 degrees F for over 2 hours
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt Keep Discard
Butter, margarine Keep Keep
Baby formula, opened Keep Discard
Eggs, egg dishes, custards, puddings Keep Discard
Hard and processed cheeses Keep Keep
Soft cheeses, cottage cheese Keep Discard
Fruits & Vegetables:    
Fruit juices, opened; canned fruits, opened; fresh fruits Keep Keep
Vegetables, cooked; vegetable juice opened Keep Discard after 6 hours
Baked potatoes Keep Discard
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Keep Keep
Garlic, chopped in oil or butter Keep Discard
Meat, Poultry, Seafood:    
Fresh or leftover meat, poultry, fish or seafood Keep Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Keep Discard
Canned meats (NOT Labeled "Keep Refrigerated" but refrigerated after opening) Keep Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated" Keep Discard
Mixed Dishes, Side Dishes:    
Casseroles, soups, stews, pizza with meat Keep Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, egg salad Keep Discard
Cooked pasta, pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinegar base Keep Discard
Gravy, stuffing Keep Discard
Pies, Breads:    
Cream or cheese filled pastries and pies Keep Discard
Fruit pies Keep Keep
Breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads Keep Keep
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Keep Discard
Sauces, Spreads, Jams:    
Mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Keep Discard if above 50 degrees F for over 8 hours
Opened salad dressing, jelly, relish, taco and barbeque sauce, mustard, catsup, olives Keep Keep