Food safety after power outage

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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - There are some things you should think about when you are out buying storm supplies or making preparations for Hurricane Irma.

Preparing for any hurricane or storm system often times means getting non-perishable food and lots of water in case of a power outage.

An outage will limit your ability to use your refrigerator, but there are a few things you can do to help minimize your chances of losing everything in there.

The optimum temperature for your freezer is zero degrees or below to ensure that all of the food in there stays frozen and safe. For your refrigerators it's 40 degrees.

If you keep you fridge closed while the power is out, it can remain cool enough for the food inside as long is power isn't out for more than four hours.

To increase that time, you can take frozen ice packs or frozen containers of water and place them in the refrigerator once the power goes out.

The key to keeping it at that safe temperature is not opening up the doors as much as possible while the power is out.

"Think of what you need and go ahead and get it out, rather than opening and closing it multiple times," explains Jesse Dail, an environmental health director. "If you know that you have leftovers or meat in the refrigerator that you know you're not going to need right away, go ahead and freeze, because frozen food will stay colder longer, obviously."

Filling up your freezer can also help your freezer stay colder. A half full freezer can last for 24 hours and a full freezer can stay cold for 48 hours.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when trying to determine if anything in your fridge is salvageable, is to go by 'when in doubt, throw it out' because food borne illnesses can be very serious.

Throw away any meats, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. if they've been in conditions above 40-degrees for more than two hours.

Experts also say that if you think the power could be out for an extended period of time, using dry or block ice can help keep your freezer and refrigerators at a safe temperature.