(What to do if you have a Power Outage)

Emergency care

When you know or suspect that power will be off in your house, set the freezer control to between -10 degrees F and -20 degrees F immediately. The colder the freezer and foods, the longer foods stay frozen.

Do not open the freezer if power fails or a mechanical failure occurs. Opening the door will hasten thawing of foods. With the door closed, food will usually stay frozen in a fully loaded freezer about two days. Exactly how long food in a freezer will stay frozen depends on:

  • The amount of food in the freezer A full freezer will stay cold many hours longer than a half-filled freezer.


  • The kind of food in the freezer A freezer full of meat will not warm up as fast as a freezer full of baked items.


  • The size of the freezer A larger freezer will keep foods frozen longer than a small freezer.


Cover the freezer with blankets to help hold in the cold. Pin the blanket away from the air vent openings because air will be needed to keep the motor from overheating when the electricity comes back on.

If power will not be back on for several days, use dry ice to keep the temperature below freezing and to prevent spoilage of frozen foods. Dry ice may be available from a local dairy or freezer locker plant. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep the temperature of food in a full 20-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for three to four days and in a half full freezer for two or three days.

Place dry ice on boards or heavy cardboard on top of the packages, and do not open the freezer unless necessary. Do not handle dry ice with bare hands because it can cause burns. When using dry ice, the room should be well ventilated.

Locate a commercial freezer locker plant and move foods there in insulated boxes if you cannot get dry ice or if the freezer will be out of commission for more than three to four days.

It is always a good idea to be prepared for emergencies before they occur. Locate a source of dry ice and a freezer locker plant in your community before a freezer failure occurs.


In general, food can safely be refrozen only if it still contains ice crystals or if it has been at refrigerator temperature (40 degrees F) for no longer than two days. In addition, use the following guidelines


  • If foods are completely thawed and have warmed above room temperature, foods should not be refrozen. Discard these foods.


  • Refreeze vegetables only if they contain plenty of ice crystals.


  • Fruits ferment when they spoil. This is not dangerous, but taste will be unacceptable. Fruit can be refrozen if taste and smell are acceptable, or it can be used in cooking or for making sweet spreads.


  • Refreeze meat only if it contains ice crystals. When cooked, use in casseroles and similar type dishes to mask any flavor changes. Texture will be affected.


  • Seafoods containing many ice crystals should be cooked immediately never refreeze.


  • Ice cream has air incorporated into it during the freezing process. If thawed, the air escapes and refreezing does not result in an acceptable product. In addition, if ice cream has been at an unsafe temperature long enough, food safety may be a problem.


Note: Defrosted low-acid foods such as vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry and pre-cooked dishes may spoil without having a distinct odor. If refrozen and cooked, they could be dangerous. Do not try to save these foods.

Refreeze partially thawed foods quickly by setting the temperature control of your freezer to the coldest position. More care should be taken with foods that have partially thawed and been refrozen because they deteriorate faster. Label containers as "Refrozen" and use as soon as possible.

How much freezer space will you need?

 One cubic foot of freezer space will hold approximately
30 lbs. to 32 lbs. of meat


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Last Updated:  Wednesday, March 11, 2009 09:22 AM