How long can food be kept in a refrigerator or freezer without power?

Every large storm that knocks out power, friends ask the same question:

How long is my food in my freezer good?

power outage food rules

The USDA offers this advice:

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

Prepare your kitchen for a power outage

In addition to keeping your freezer and refrigerator doors closed, the following precautions will help you eat at home through at least 4 days of no-power:

  • know where you can get bags of ice and coolers (have at least one large cooler on hand in your storage area) to extend the longevity of your frozen foods. If it’s cold out side, keep the cooler outside your house. Once you’ve moved food from the freezer to the cooler with ice, consider it now thawing and in the refrigerator stage.
  • Prior to a storm, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables (that can be eaten raw or cooked), breads and non-perishables including canned salmon, tuna and vegetables. Canned cranberry sauce is a popular option in our house.
  • Always be aware of how much gas remains in your grill. In the case of a power outage, your frozen meats can be thawed and cooked on the grill, allowing an additional two nights of dinners.
  • Freeze waterbottles in small spaces in your refrigerator and freezer to allow the appliances to remain cold.

Image courtesy of patpitchaya /

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    My family members always say that I aam killinng my time here at net, but I know I amm ggetting knowledge everyday bby
    eading thes fastidious articles or reviews.
    Jessica´s last blog post ..Jessica

  2. says

    Even if you own a generator, it is always a good idea to be prepared. A generator isn’t always fool-proof. It can run out of gas or get destroyed by flooding or high winds. I love the idea of keeping frozen water bottles in your freezer that you can throw in the fridge when the power goes out.


  1. […] Note, to any who are preparing for a storm, check the gas in your grill and make sure you have a full tank! Then keep your food in the freezer until it thaws naturally, giving you at least two nights of dinners. I posted more emergency preparedness food tips yesterday. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge