Severe Weather Electricity Outages
Severe weather in Pennsylvania has been too frequent an occurrence in recent weeks. And, with COVID-19 keeping utility companies short-staffed, repairing power outages may take a little longer than usual no matter if you’re in the PECO distribution area or another locale. The problem is that by following Governor Tom Wolf’s stay at home order you probably have your fridge packed with groceries. This means that if the power goes out and your refrigerator turns off, you’re at risk for losing a lot perishable food and a lot of money.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that refrigerators can safely keep food cold for four hours if you don’t open the refrigerator door. However, with longer wait times and extremely severe weather, your power might be out for longer. In order to help you prepare for potential severe weather outages in PA and keep your cold food items from going bad, we’ve compiled a list of tips should you need them.
Here’s some information to keep in mind if the power goes out and you’re scrambling to preserve your perishables:
Food Preservation Tips
The best way to prepare for severe weather and power outages is to get ready ahead of time. Here are some food preservation tips to make it less likely you’ll have to throw out your food:
- If bad weather is anticipated, fill freezer bags with water and freeze them ahead of time. You can stack them against food in the refrigerator if the power goes out for an extended period of time.
- Get coolers set up with frozen ice packs as you prepare for potential outages.
- Purchase ice bags ahead of time as additional cold pack options to keep food cold.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors shut. Open them only when you need something and then quickly shut them again. The more you open the door, the more quickly the food will get warm.
- Eat the cold items first and save the pantry items for a later time. By doing so, less cold food items will go to waste and you can save the pantry goods for later.
To Keep or Discard Food After Electricity Outages
If the electricity comes back on or if the power is still off, you want to eat the food before it goes bad. But it’s important to know how long you have to eat particular foods once the power goes out. The USDA compiled a helpful list of refrigerator foods and whether you should keep or discard them once they get to 40°F and above for more than two hours. Here are some of the more common items to keep in mind:
- Meat, poultry, and seafood: Discard
- Soft, shredded, and low-fat cheeses: Discard
- Hard and processed cheeses: Keep
- Dairy: Discard all except butter/margarine
- Eggs: Discard
- Casseroles, soups, stews: Discard
- Fresh and canned fruits: Keep
- Cut fruits: Discard
- Non-creamy condiments/dressings: Keep
For freezer foods, the general rule is that items held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours and thawed should be discarded (with certain exceptions). Except for ice cream and frozen yogurt, those frozen food items that still feel cold and have ice crystals on them can be refrozen and used later.
Severe Weather Electricity Outage Recovery
When the severe weather has passed and the electricity in your home is back on, it’s time to work quickly to get your refrigerated and frozen foods back where they belong. The sooner the items are replaced and the refrigerator and freezer doors remain shut for a while, the quicker they can get cold and frozen once again. And once your power is back up and running, you may want to learn about ways to conserve energy.
With all this talk about power and electricity, you may be thinking about looking for a new electricity plan. And with quarantine time on your hands, there’s no time like the present to do a little bit of research. Visit https://www.paenergyratings.com to view electricity providers and plans in your area.