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Do not open the refrigerator or freezer.  Tell your little ones not to open the door.  An unopened refrigerator will keep foods safely cold for about 4 hours.  A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours, 24 hours if it is half full. 

If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated food items such as milk, dairy products, meats, eggs, and left-overs into a cooler surrounded by ice.  Try to obtain block or dry ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible. 

If it looks like the power outage will last for several days, 50 pound of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days. 

CAUTION:  You must be careful when handling dry ice.  Never touch dry ice with bare hands or breathe its vapors in an enclosed area.  Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, a gas.

Plan ahead and know where you can buy block ice or dry ice.  
 What do I need if the power will be out?  
•  Coolers:  One or more coolers.  Styrofoam coolers can do an excellent job as well.
•  Ice:  Placing ice around your food in a cooler will ensure that it will stay cold.
•  Thermometer:  A digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometer or appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures.  Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer no matter how long the power has been out. The refrigerator temperature should be 40F or below:  the freezer, 0F or lower.  If you are not sure a particular food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer.
Follow these steps to help keep food safe during power outages or when the freezer or refrigerator is not working:
If the appliance will be working again within a couple of hours, just minimize the opening of the freezer and refrigerator doors.  If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages and poultry items from other foods.  If the raw meat and poultry begin to thaw this will prevent their juices from getting onto other foods.  
When the refrigerator and/or freezer is operating again, follow these guidelines to decide what to do with foods:
•  Refrigerated foods should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours.
•  Throw out any perishable food in your refrigerator, such as meat, poultry, lunchmeats, fish, dairy products, eggs, and any prepared or cooked foods that have been above 40F for 2 hours, because bacteria can multiply to unsafe levels under these conditions.
•  Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as they are still firm and there is no evidence of mold, or sliminess.
•  If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when power comes back on.  If the appliance thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
•  If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine the safety.
•  If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40F or below, it is safe to refreeze.
•  Raw meats, and poultry, cheese, juices, breads and pastries can be refrozen without losing too much food quality.
•  Prepared foods, fish, vegetables and fruits in the freezer, can be refrozen safely, but food quality may suffer.
•  Remember, you can’t rely on appearance or odor of the food to determine if it is safe.  Food that has thawed or was help above 40F for more than 2 hours should be thrown out because bacteria may multiply to unsafe levels.
•  To remove spills and freshen the freezer and refrigerator, wash them with a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water.
•  To absorb any lingering odors, place an open box or dish of baking soda in the appliance.
What if I go to bed and the power is still not on?
Before you go to bed, pack your perishables into your coolers if you haven’t already done so and put in as much ice as you can. When you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on.  When the power goes back on, it will wake you, so you can check the condition of your foods in the refrigerator and freezer.
What if the power goes out while I’m at work or out of the house and it has been more than a few hours before I get home? 
Try to determine how long the power has been out.  Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with your thermometer.  A liquid such as milk or juice is easy to check.  Spot check other items like steaks or left-overs also.  If the internal temperature of the food is above 40F, it should be thrown out.  (Check the chart on the back)  If the food in the freezer is below 40F and there are still ice crystals, you can usually refreeze.  (Check the chart on the back)
What if the power goes out and comes back while I am out?
If your freezer is fairly full and you know it was not longer than 24 hours, the food should be OK.  There will be loss of quality  with refreezing, but the food will be safe.  If the refrigerator was out for more than 2-4 hours, you should check the perishable food items to determine if the food has been above 40F.

Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out

List of various foods, use chart as a guide.


Our Mission: Prevent. Promote. Protect. Franklin County.
Our Vision: Live. Work. Play. Pray. Healthy!
Our Values: Accountability, Dedication, Empowerment, Equity, Excellence, Flexibility, Integrity, Respect



The Franklin County Health Department is committed to a policy of providing opportunities to people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. FCHD is an equal opportunity provider and equal opportunity employer.

The Franklin County Health Department endeavors to make its Website accessible to the widest possible audience. Any problems with or questions about the Franklin County Health Department Website may be directed to the  webmaster.


 FCHD will be closed the following dates   FCHD Board of Health Meetings - Special Meetings  
Monday   Jan 20 Martin Luther King Day         
Thursday March 12

Staff Development Day


Friday April 10  Good Friday, Closed 1/2 day         
Monday May 25 Memorial Day        
Thursday  June 4

Staff Development Meeting 

FCHD Closed 

Friday July 3 Independence Day         
Monday Sept 7 Labor Day      FCHD Board of Health Meetings -  
Tuesday Nov 3 Presidential Election Day    
 6pm at FCHD - Public Health Center, Available to the public online as needed to COVID19. 
Wednesday Nov 11 Veterans Day     September 21, 2020  
Thursday Nov 26 Thanksgiving Day     December 21, 2020  
Friday Nov 27 FCHD Closed      March 15, 2021  
Thursday  Dec 24 Christmas Eve     June 21, 2021  
Wednesday Dec 25 Christmas Day        
Thursday Dec 31 New Year's Eve        
Frday  Jan 1,2021 New Year's Day