Food Safety: When to throw it out during extended power outages

When the power goes out, life's never fun.

Aspects of life now made easy by electricity, food storage for example, can be a major headache. Here are some tips on that very thing that could save you from drinking that spoiled milk.

The No. 1 thing to remember is to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep the cool in as long as possible.

Generally, once the power is out for four hours or more, it's time to empty the fridge. And if you have a thermometer inside, keep in mind that bacteria can grow in 40 degree temperatures.

Frozen foods will last about 24 hours in a freezer packed half-full.  A fully packed freezer can go 48 hours and still keep food safe. Do not try to refreeze defrosted food -- just toss it.

In fact, if in doubt, toss it out.

As you're getting rid of food, take an inventory. Especially if you have a homeowner's insurance claim for other storm damage, you may want to consider also claiming the cost of food lost. If you lose a lot of food with a high value, you can consider filing a claim but be aware anytime you file an insurance claim you're risking having your rates go up.

Many insurance plans do not cover replacing a refrigerator or freezer if it's zapped in a storm.

Also be aware the power company is not liable for your costs when weather wipes out your electricity resulting in food spoiling.

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