Power's out, how long will the cold last?
September 11, 2012 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Power went out... right as I'd gone to the grocery. I put all the must-stay-cold stuff away anyhow because the stuff I'd bought was worth more than what was already in there. So, it's been opened once, what was put in was still frozen/cold from the grocery. I'm not opening it again. How long can I expect stuff to still be good for?

It'd be nice if I had a better idea when it was coming back, but unfortunately, no such luck. I'm hoping it's not much longer, but given that it *could* be late tonight or tomorrow, I'd just like to have an idea what to expect. The fridge and freezer are reasonably full but mostly of various leftovers that I won't be heartbroken about losing, but the groceries I just bought will be more annoying.
posted by gracedissolved to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
My power was out once for 48 hours. We had to throw away some items (like older meats), but for the most part, everything was fine.
posted by camylanded at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency. Putting things in an ice-filled cooler may be better than your refrigerator.
posted by grouse at 1:44 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you go back to the grocery store and buy some dry ice? Most bigger groceries sell it. A block or two in both fridge and freezer will hold the contents for a while.
posted by charmcityblues at 1:46 PM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: Your stuff will probably be fine until tomorrow. It largely depends on how much stuff was in your fridge before you opened it. Since was pretty full, there's lots of cold stuff in there to keep the temperature down. If it was pretty empty then it's just cold air and that's mostly gone when you opened the door.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:16 PM on September 11, 2012

A lot depends on 1. how full your refrigerator/freezer is of already cold items, and 2. how old your appliance is and how good the seals are. Just last week we had a 48hr power outage, and my new refrigerator/freezers were very full with brand new seals and we didn't lose anything. But a friend in an apartment with old appliances and crappy seals lost everything (except a dead hamster).
posted by rhapsodie at 2:22 PM on September 11, 2012

Response by poster: If there's at least a chance it'll make it until tomorrow morning, I don't think I'll bother with another errand. If it goes past tonight, since it appears to be an electrical problem with the building and not the power company's problem, I'm gonna just get my landlord to cover whatever losses there might be, but if I'd spoiled it all by opening it at all, then I might have been willing to go do that. Thanks, all!
posted by gracedissolved at 2:54 PM on September 11, 2012

Dry ice, or even just a couple bags of store bought ice, if you have room.

Put it on top of things in freezer and on top shelf in fridge.

We've kept stuff that way for nearly a week.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:11 PM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: There's no way of telling how long your stuff will stay chilled: there's too many variables, including how good the seals on the fridge and freezer are, how full they are, and the ambient weather.

Leaky seals, of course, will contain the cold/freezing air inside shorter than secure seals. A freezer full of solidly frozen items will keep each other frozen longer than a few items will. And loosing power in winter will help keep everything longer than if it happens in hot weather, which would drain the cold from the appliances faster. (Example: a year and a half ago, I lost power for three days, but all was well with the stuff in my freezer; two months ago, during that 'derecho' storm at the end of June, I lost everything in there in less than a day. Same freezer, just the difference between doing it in winter and doing it in near-100-degree heat.)
posted by easily confused at 6:35 PM on September 11, 2012

Another avenue to possibly explore, depending on how long your power is out, is to see if your homeowner's policy would cover the replacement cost of the food.

We live in Western Mass, and when we had that crazy snowstorm hit us last October our power was out for EIGHT DAYS. We had to throw pretty much everything out. But! As luck would have it, our homeowner's policy covered this, and we were reimbursed for the full replacement value of the food! Good luck!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 6:34 AM on September 12, 2012

Oops! Just saw your updated posting! Maybe this would be covered in Renter's Insurance too!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 6:38 AM on September 12, 2012

Response by poster: It came back on early today and nothing showed signs of getting too melty at that point, so woo. I was mostly afraid, since the recommendation is usually not to open the freezer, that having opened it ruined any chance of it surviving. I still have foods!
posted by gracedissolved at 7:58 PM on September 12, 2012

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