The power goes out! What do you do?
1: DO NOT OPEN THE REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER. Not for anything until you have some ice.
2. Why did the power go out? If it’s due to cold temps outside… not to worry! Take all your freezer food and put it outside. Get organized, put it in a cooler or tote inside, and then put it outside all at once so you are not leaving your door open and letting your precious heat out any more than necessary. It will be fine out there until the temps hit 33 degrees, at which point you will either have power or you will find another solution. While you’re putting your food outside, get some snow, pack it tight in plastic containers, baggies, anything watertight. Put the snow in the fridge. You can now get food out of the fridge until the snow melts…at which point you need to put more snow in.
3. If the power outage is NOT due to cold weather, you have a couple hours before things become urgent. Talk to the power company. The freezer and fridge should be fine for a few hours as long as it is not super duper hot–they are well insulated, just LEAVE THEM CLOSED. If the estimate is “you’ll be repaired in an hour”, just wait it out. If the estimate is, “We don’t know, it could be days”… you need to take prompt action. If you have substantial freezer stores, buy or rent a generator if you can in the long run, but in the short run, you need ICE. Buy ice or even dry ice as soon as you possibly can. A chest freezer well packed can stay safe for up to two days without added cold stores, but can stay cold indefinitely if you keep tossing dry ice into it every day or so. A fridge is good for about 4 hours with no power and no ice if you do not open it.
It is almost always going to be cheaper to keep the food cold than to buy all new food. Even if you end up spending $100-150 on a “multi day cooler” and packing that full of your fridge goods and some ice, it will still be cheaper than replacing every single thing in there. If you have the storage space and are prone to power outages, consider getting a large “igloo” cooler.
Frozen foods can be refrozen as long as they still have some ice crystals and are below 40 degrees.
So what if your freezer does defrost and the food is “safe” but not icy?
Keep it cold, cook it as quickly as you can, and freeze the cooked food.
Also, ASK FOR HELP. If you are having issues keeping your food cold and can’t drive to get supplies, if the roads are passable for a skilled driver, ask your friends if there is someone who can help you save your food.
Here’s what the g’ummint says about it: