How Long is Food Good in the Fridge Without Power

Safe and sufficient food good in the fridge is a need for maintaining life and fostering health. Emergencies may occur, particularly in the case of severe weather. But, how long is food good in the fridge without power?

The best course of action is to already have a plan in place when they do. This entails being aware of the appropriate food safety measures to take before, during, and after a power loss, as well as being ready to handle food and water properly in the case of floods.

1. How Long Is Food Good in the Fridge Without Power

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise storing appliance thermometers 1in the refrigerator and freezer to minimize food loss during a power outage. Both the freezer and the refrigerator should be maintained at or below freezing points of 40 and 0 degrees, respectively.

The CDC 2advises closing the doors to your refrigerator and freezer during a power outage. The food will remain safe for up to 48 hours in a full freezer, four hours in the refrigerator, and 24 hours in a half-full freezer if the doors are closed.

how long is food good in the fridge without power
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Put perishable items in a cooler with ice if there is one and it has been four hours after the power went out. Keep the meal at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below by adding ice or another cold source, such as frozen gel packs.

After a power outage, frozen or refrigerated food may not be safe to consume.

Check the temperature with an appliance thermometer. The food may be frozen again if the freezer is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

If you don’t have a thermometer, examine each food package to be sure it’s safe; don’t go by how it looks or smells. It is okay to refreeze or reheat food that still has ice crystals on it or that is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

2. Get Prepared for Power Emergencies

Make sure your freezer and refrigerator each have appliance thermometers. Make that the freezer and refrigerator are both set at or below 0°F and 40°F, respectively.

The refrigerator and freezer temperatures will be shown on the appliance thermometers in the event of a power loss, allowing you to evaluate if the food is safe. If the power goes out, freeze water containers for ice to keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers. The ice melting will also provide drinking water if your usual water source is polluted or unavailable.

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Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Items from the refrigerator that you may not need right away, such as leftovers, milk, sour cream, fresh meat, and chicken, should be frozen. This makes it easier to maintain a safe temperature for them.

Place food in the freezer in groups. This prolongs the food’s ability to remain cold. If the power will be down for more than four hours, prepare coolers to keep food chilled.

Ice cubes may be made or purchased ahead of time, and gel packs3 can be frozen. All of these should be kept in the freezer for later use in the fridge or coolers.

Make careful to have bottled water on hand and to keep it as far away from floods as you can. Do not use or consume bottled water if it smells. Instead, throw it away or, if appropriate, contact your bottled water supplier to arrange for a replacement.

If you use food or drink containers in an emergency to store non-food items like fuel, throw them away after usage and do not recycle them.

3. After and During Power Outages

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Photo by Ello on Unsplash

To keep food safe, follow these simple guidelines:

To maintain the frigid temperature, try to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as you can.

If the power is going to be off for an extended amount of time, purchase some ice to keep the fridge as cool as it can be. A fully loaded, 18 cubic foot freezer should remain cold for two days with the use of 50 pouds of dry ice.

It is crucial to properly cook each item to a safe minimum internal temperature if you want to consume chilled or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures. This will guarantee that any potential foodborne germs4 are eliminated. But if the food was ever over 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more (or one hour if temps are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) – throw it out.

4. When The Power Is Restored

Ascertain the Food’s Safety by

When the electricity is restored, check the temperature of any appliance thermometers that were kept in the freezer. Food is safe and may be refrozen if the freezer thermometer registers 40° F or below.

Check each package of food to ensure it is safe if a thermometer has no bee smells in the freezer. Looks and smells are not reliable indicators. It is okay to refreeze or reheat food that still has ice crystals on it or that is 40° F or colder.

Food stored in refrigerators should be safe if the power remained off for no more than four hours if the doors were kept closed. Check the food’s or the refrigerator’s temperature when the power has been restored but don’t try to taste the food to see whether it is okay or not.

Any perishable food should be thrown away. Foods that are perishable and have internal temperatures of 45°F or less should be safe to eat, but they should be prepared and eaten right away.

How long will food last in your refrigerator during a power outage?

Even when completely prepared, perishable foods like meat, poultry, shellfish, milk, and eggs that are not kept sufficiently chilled or frozen may make you sick if you eat them.

5. Conclusion

The length of time food remains safe in the fridge without power depends on several factors, including the temperature of the room, the type of food, and how long the power outage lasts.

If the fridge remains closed during the power outage, the food inside can generally stay at a safe temperature for about 4 hours. This assumes that the room temperature is around 40°F (4°C). However, if the room is warmer, the safe time decreases.

If you have a food thermometer, you can check the internal temperature of perishable foods. Discard any perishable items that have been above 40°F (4°C) for more than 2 hours.

A full freezer can keep food frozen for about 48 hours if it remains closed. A half-full freezer will typically keep food frozen for about 24 hours. Again, these times can be shorter if the room temperature is high.

It’s essential to use your best judgment and consider the specific circumstances. If you’re unsure about the safety of the food, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard it to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.


1. What foods are more susceptible to spoilage during a power outage?

A: Perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and leftovers are more susceptible to spoilage during a power outage. These items should be discarded if the fridge temperature rises above 40°F for more than 2 hours.

2.  Can I refreeze food that has partially thawed during a power outage?

A: If the food still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if it were refrigerated, you can safely refreeze it. However, if the food has reached 40°F or higher for an extended period, it should be cooked and consumed or discarded to avoid potential foodborne illnesses.

3. Is there anything I can do to prepare for a power outage and minimize food waste?

A: Yes, there are some steps you can take to prepare for a power outage. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in your fridge to monitor the temperature accurately. Ensure the fridge is set to 40°F (4°C) or below, and the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below.

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  1. Luo, Qingyong, et al. “Graptolites as fossil geo-thermometers and source material of hydrocarbons: An overview of four decades of progress.” Earth-Science Reviews 200 (2020): 103000. ↩︎
  2. CDC, Areview WITHIN. “Centers for disease control and prevention.” (2020). ↩︎
  3. El–Naggar, M. R., et al. “Effect of cold gel pack on controlling pain intensity associated with deep breathing and coughing exercise after cardiac surgery.” J Nurs Heal Sci 6.1 (2020): 22-50. ↩︎
  4. Tu, Zhijie, et al. “Universal and ultrasensitive detection of foodborne bacteria on a lateral flow assay strip by using wheat germ agglutinin-modified magnetic SERS nanotags.” RSC advances 12.42 (2022): 27344-27354. ↩︎

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