Here's How Long Freezer Food Will Last During A Power Outage

Whether lightning took out a transformer or a squirrel gnawed through some power lines, power outages are all too common. After the candles have been lit and the flashlights have been located, the next thing on people's minds is likely to be the contents of their refrigerator and freezer. 

Typically a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. Freezers, on the other hand, will keep its temperature for 48 hours, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA notes that if the freezer is less full, it will keep its temperature for a shorter amount of time. A half-full freezer will stay frozen for half as long — around 24 hours. 

The most important thing to do when trying to maintain the temperature inside a freezer with no power is to keep the door closed. Freezers are well-insulated which allows them to keep their temperature, but opening the door will let the cold air out and warm air in.

What you'll have to toss if your freezer loses power

If your freezer has been disconnected from power for more than 48 hours, you may have to consider what foods you are going to keep and what foods you are going to toss. You can safely refreeze foods if they still contain ice crystals, although this may have an impact on the quality of the food (via The University of Wisconsin). 

Certain foods will stay frozen longer, so while the 48-hour rule is a benchmark, it's not set in stone. Frozen meat and veggies, for example, should stay frozen for longer than bread. Fruits can be refrozen if they are thawed — however, vegetables should not because bacteria can rapidly multiply in thawed veggies. Thawed meat and poultry should be thrown away if the meat has been over 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. 

Thawed fish, shellfish, frozen dinners, and ice cream should not be refrozen as they are all extremely perishable.

No matter what, though, if you have any questions at all about the safety of your previously-frozen food, it's best to just throw it out.