Is It Safe To Leave Food Outside in the Snow During a Power Outage? Here's What Experts Say

Feb 17, 2021 08:06 AM EST | By Joshua Summers (

Experts Warn on the Danger of Putting Food in Snow During a Power Outage
(Photo : Charles McQuillan)
Supermarket shoppers in Tescos stare at a near empty freezer cabinet on January 14, 2021 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Record-breaking cold and snowstorms have hit America in recent days. Because of the extreme cold, a power outage may occur in some areas. Your areas may be among those that may experience a power outage, and you might think that putting your food outside in the snow will make them last longer. But is it safe?  

While generators might be a good help during these times, everybody does not have access to it. Cold temperatures are ideal for preserving different kinds of foods, but experts argue that you should probably think twice before putting your food out in the snow.

Related story: Food Preservation: Why Should We Do It?

Is It Safe to Put Frozen Food Out in the Snow?

Freezers are cold, and when the outside temperature is as cold as your freezer, you might think that putting your food outside in the snow is safe. However, Food Scientist from K-State, Karen Blakeslee, shares with Fox 4 that it is not safe to put your frozen food outside the snow because frozen food can thaw if exposed to the sun's rays, even if the temperature is freezing.

Blakeslee says that foodborne bacteria may become too warm and let the bacteria cause foodborne illnesses to grow, which is dangerous. Blakeslee adds that storing food outside will expose it to physical damage due to curious pets or animals, contamination from car fumes, dust, and grime.

King 5 references U.S. Government's Food and Safety, saying that even with snow and ice, temperatures outside are not stable, causing the food to enter the danger zone. It adds that storing food outside should not be done because there are also risks of unsanitary conditions such as attracting animals that may get and try to get your food or contaminate it.

How Should You Store Food?

Instead of putting your food outside, did you know that you can still utilize your fridge and freezers even without power? According to Dallas News, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the doors it is kept closed. It also adds that a full freezer can hold its temperature for 48 hours and 24 hours if it is half full.

Blakeslee adds in her interview with Fox 4 that utilizing dry ice can help preserve your appliance's temperature as long as you cautiously use them. She also notes that the cold temperatures can still help make your own ice by filling a bucket with water and emptying milk boxes and filling them with water, then leaving them outside in the cold. King 5 also shares that using a traditional cooler will also help, and it is safer than putting them out.

Experts' views suggest that storing food in the snow during a power outage is not a safe method of preserving it. Remember to prioritize health and the strategies they have mentioned to keep you safe.

Read also: 2020's Food Safety Virtual Summit to Discuss Effects of Coronavirus in Food Industry

WATCH: Can You Safely Keep Your Food Outside if the Weather Is Freezing? From WHAS11

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