Safe Holidays Series: Food Safety and Winter Weather!

— Written By Marcus McFarland
en Español / em Português

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People walking in snow storm

(Source from Seth Sawyers via Flickr)

Bad weather hits all throughout the year, even during the holiday months. As we enter December, we are heading away from the hurricane season, but stepping into snow and ice storm season. Winter weather accidents can occur often like iced trees knocking down power lines, causing neighborhoods to lose electricity. With the power being out, you may have problems with cooking meals and keeping refrigerated foods fresh. But, thanks to our friends at the NC Extension Food Safety portal, we have some tips on eating and keeping foods fresh during a winter weather disaster below.

  1. Make sure to check for foods that require no cooking. Things like fruit or canned juices, canned vegetables and meats, bread, and even instant coffee are foods that you can eat that don’t require power to cook.
  2. Make sure to have a thermometer in both the fridge and the freezer.
  3. Keeping your fridge closed will keep foods below 41°F for approximately 4 hours; Keeping the freezer closed and full will keep foods below 41°F for 48 hours.
  4. Alternative heat sources for cooking can come from a fireplace, a candle warmer (like a fondue pot), or an outdoor gas grill.
  5. Remember that refrigeration is limited, so open and used enough canned foods for one meal. Any leftover cannot be saved.

If you have questions on what specific food you can save and what food you need to throw out, check out the publication for refrigerated foods and freezer foods. Also, here’s a list of foods that don’t need to be cooked. Be safe, and have a Happy Holidays!


“When the power is out – When to save refrigerated food and when to throw it out”

“When the power is out – When to refreeze frozen food and when to throw it out”

“Foods that require no cooking”

“Meal preparation and food safety after a power failure”