When the power goes out, keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. It will keep food cold for about four hours if left unopened. Any longer than that, especially if the internal temperature has dropped below 40 degrees F, any perishable food should be discarded.

It’s already been a tough weather season but we still need to think about preparing for spring storms and tornadoes.

Planning ahead for stormy weather can eliminate a major source of stress for you, your family, or others you care for, such as an elderly relative or neighbor. Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:

Be prepared

-- Keep on hand a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling, which depend on electricity.

-- Have a refrigerator thermometer.

-- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.

When the power goes out

-- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

-- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

--Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.

Once the power is restored

-- Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer.

n If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40 degrees F 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 its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

-- Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than four hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.

-- Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.

Trail Mix

  • 4 cups whole grain cereal
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup banana chips
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Add all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to mix. Pour 1/4 cup trail mix into a snack-size storage bag.

Makes 32 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 107 calories, 5g fat, 35mg sodium, 17g carbohydrates, 9g sugars, 2g protein.

Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at (308) 385-5088 or at Visit the Hall County website at

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