Food in the refrigerator will be safe for up to 4 hours without power. Any longer than that and perishables such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and any leftovers should be discarded. Along with the perishables, toss anything that has been above 40 degrees for over 2 hours, according to federal food safety guidelines.


Freezers will stay cold for up to 48 hours if it is full and 24 hours if half full (just another reason to get that extra ice cream!) As long as the temperature does not go above 40 degrees for more than two hours food should be useable; even partially thawed food can be refrozen.

The key things to keep in mind:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed – each time you open the door precious cold air is lost.
  • NEVER taste food to tell if it is still good – it is safer to just toss it.
  • Discard anything that has come in contact with raw meat or its juices.
  • 40 degrees is the magic number – if it is 40 degrees discard it.

Sources:, Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out, Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

CDC, What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly