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Agricultural Review

Food safety – What to do if the power goes out

Whenever the power is out, people wonder what to do about their refrigerators and freezers. Here are some tips from the N.C. Cooperative Extension for keeping things cold as long as possible.

  • If your freezer is only half full, freeze containers of clean drinking water. A full freezer can stay cold for several days, even in the summer.
  • Check with a local locker plant to see if it can take frozen foods in an emergency.
  • Check for local sources of dry ice.
  • If you think the power may go out, turn the freezer temperature to the coldest possible setting.
  • If you do lose power, do not open the freezer door. You can insulate the freezer with blankets or quilts. Be careful not to block the vent.

Foods that require no cooking

Breakfast items:

  • Fruit or canned juice
  • Ready-to-eat cereals or breakfast bars
  • Breads or crackers with jams, jellies, margarine, peanut butter, cheese or cheese spreads
  • Milk (canned, evaporated or reconstituted powdered milk)
  • Instant coffee, tea or cocoa

Lunch or supper items:

  • Processed cheese or cheese spreads
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats, fish, poultry
  • Canned beans
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Bread, crackers, cookies
  • Canned puddings


  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit leathers
  • Beef jerky
  • Hard candy
  • Granola



NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047