Protecting Your Goods During an Outage

Power outages are inevitable, but you can minimize the effects by knowing what steps to take when the lights go out. Follow these tips for preserving your food and protecting your electronics during an outage.

You can prepare even before an outage strikes. Install appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer to help identify if your food enters the danger zone of higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Filling the fridge with cold food and water helps keep everything cold longer (the same way a cooler full of ice will stay cold longer than a half-full one). Tuck extra bags and bottles of water into the fridge and freezer to enhance this effect. You can even freeze items like milk, leftovers, and fresh meat that you don’t need to use immediately. Just don’t pack the fridge and freezer too full; cool air must still be able to circulate.

If you anticipate an outage or receive notice of a planned one, think ahead and set your refrigerator temperature to the coldest setting.

During an outage, don’t open the refrigerator or freezer doors! Unopened, your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours without power, and your freezer will keep food cold for about 48 hours.

After an outage, be sure to cook any meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs to a safe minimum internal temperature before eating. If you have any reason to suspect foods in this category were not kept at safe temperatures, discard them. Some foods may be safe to keep even if they went above 40 degrees. Refer to this handy chart from to learn more.

When your power goes out, you can take some simple steps to ensure your electronics will not be harmed by a potential surge when your power is restored. 

Due to the nature of electricity, power lines are rapidly filled with electrical current upon restoration, and that current can exceed the amount your electronics are designed for. External surges are less common and occur when the power supply to your home is flooded with more voltage than your home is designed to receive. Typically, this is caused by lightning striking a power line or a broken utility line.

While restoration surges are a possibility, the most common surges are internal. These generally occur when a large appliance turns on, like the compressor in your air conditioner. When this happens, a sudden increase in demand on the power supply can result in a small but potentially harmful surge throughout your home.

The best protection against an unexpected surge is a good surge protector, and it’s important to understand that surge protectors and power strips are not the same thing. Power strips provide you with additional outlets, but no protection against a power surge.

Surge protectors are designed to die in the event of a surge to protect your things. In the event of any extended outage, it is safest to unplug all electronics. Surge protectors are also a convenient way to disconnect several devices at once. When the power comes back on, wait a few minutes for the electricity to stabilize before plugging your things back in.

The only certain protection against a surge is to unplug your devices. If you know a storm is coming, unplug and disconnect your electronics.