Winter weather can often mean power outages, and that can mean big trouble for the food in your refrigerator if you don't have a generator.

Dr. Ernest Julian offers a few tips to help manage refrigerated food during a power outage.

  • If you believe a power outage is imminent, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings possible. If the power does go out, it will then take the units longer to warm up.
  • Pack the food tightly inside the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Put ice inside your refrigerator to help keep food below 40 degrees. If it's cold enough outside, you can freeze water outside and bring the ice inside to put in the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Of course if weather conditions permit, you can take food outside to keep it cold.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors in order to keep cold air inside.

Dr. Julian tells WPRI that many food items will need to be discarded if they are kept at more than 40 degrees for more than two hours.

While it's best to keep perishable foods refrigerated, this website explains that many products that are notoriously kept in the fridge will probably be OK if they are kept at room temperature for a few hours. Those items include:

  • Salted butter
  • Yogurt
  • Hard cheeses, including cheddar, Swiss, and some processed cheese
  • Bread
  • Ketchup, mustard, and other vinegar-based sauces
  • Jams and jellies
  • Beef jerky