- Throw out any meat, chicken, seafood or dairy product, raw or uncooked, that isn't at 40 degrees or below (look for visible ice crystals).
- Use all perishable foods before shelf-stable ones.
- Cook perishable proteins — meats, eggs and poultry — first.
- Even cooked meat must stay cold and is good for only three to four days after thawing, and under refrigeration.
- Throw out any raw or cooked meat or dairy food that has been sitting at 40 degrees or above more than two hours. If it's 90 degrees or more outside, 1 hour is the limit on leaving foods out.
- Keep hands and preparation surfaces clean.
- Use bleach wipes or white vinegar to keep counters and surfaces clean; water from the tap may contaminate surfaces.
- Use only bottled water for washing food, hands, surfaces and utensils.
WHAT WILL KEEP
These foods will keep at least two weeks without power:
- Vinaigrette salad dressings — but no creamy ones
- Relishes, pickles and chutney
- Foil packs of mayonnaise
- Steak sauces, including Worcestershire, A-1 and HP
- Tabasco and any commercially bottled hot sauce made with vinegar
- Barbecue sauces
- Jellies, jams and syrups
Cereals and grains
- Boxed cereals
- Rice, barley, pastas, oats, seeds
- Cake mixes
- Dry pet foods
- Unopened cans, bags, boxes, jars and pouches (these are safe UNLESS the boxes get wet or cans are dented)
Other foods that are safe
- Peanut butter
- Processed or hard cheeses, or cheese spreads not from the refrigerated case
- Most oils (some oils such as sesame, walnut oil or peanut oils may go rancid and taste off in high heat, but they are safe)
- Spices (check for weevils; the taste quality will be affected after storage in high heat)
- Baking goods: Nuts, candied fruits, bagged coconut, chocolate or fruit syrups, chocolate bars or chips, nuts
- Potatoes, carrots, onions and turnips generally will last at room temperatures (discard if wet)
What to throw out
These foods must be thrown out if your refrigerator is off longer than four hours, or if your freezer has been off for more than 48 hours (only 24 hours for a half-full freezer):
- All fresh meats, chicken or seafood
- Any cured meats — hot dogs, lunch meats, ham, bacon (shelf-stable bacon is OK)
- All dairy products and all foods that contain them (yogurt, cottage cheese, semi-soft and soft cheese, grated cheese, any milk products)
- Opened jars of mayonnaise
- Eggs that have been at room temperature more than 4 hours
- Egg substitutes
- Garlic or tomatoes packed in oil
Use with caution up to 2 days:
- Frozen fruits and frozen vegetables with no sauces will keep up to 48 hours in a cooler.
- Eggs, uncracked, kept in cooler
Important: Foods that are labeled kosher, cured, natural or organic have nothing to do with how long a food lasts. Do NOT use those labels as a safety gauge.
- Don't ration.
- Drink as much as you need. Look for more water later.
- Treat opened bottles of water as food: Bacteria will grow in it if contaminated; don't reuse plastic bottles. Open and use it quickly or chill it.
- Use water in tub, pipes, water heater or toilet tank for washing or flushing.
- You can use water in water heater. Turn off power and open spigot at the bottom. Don't reconnect the water heater until you're told the water supply is safe.
If you must purify water:
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