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Food Safety

Food safety during a power outage


  • Ensure you have a thermometer for every refrigerator and freezer in your home. You can purchase them at the local department or hardware store. Thermometers are necessary in order to monitor the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer on a regular basis and especially during the power outage.
  • Proper refrigeration temperature is 4°C (40°F) or less and proper freezer temperature is -18°C (0°F) or less.
  • Perishable foods are considered safe as long as they are kept at 4°C or less. Perishable foods that rise above 4°C for more than 2 hours need to be discarded.
  • If your freezer is completely full, the food inside it should be safe for up to 48 hours. If it is half-full, the food inside should be safe for up to 24 hours.
  • NEVER taste a food to determine its safety! Foods contaminated with harmful microorganisms do not smell or taste bad. When in doubt, throw it out.

Tips for keeping food cold

  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible throughout the power outage to preserve proper cold holding temperatures.
  • Ice can be placed around foods in the refrigerator in order to maintain cold temperatures.
  • Be careful placing foods outside during the winter. Food can thaw under the sun’s rays or it can become contaminated by animals. Use a cooler or closed container and a thermometer to make sure the temperature remains under 4°C (40°F).

Food safety after a power outage

  • Foods that have been above 4°C (40°F) for more than 2 hours must be discarded.
  • Frozen foods that are 4°C or less, or still contain ice crystals can be refrozen.
  • If raw food has leaked during thawing it is necessary to properly clean and sanitize all the areas the food has touched.

Safe water during a power outage:

  • Well water source
    • If you use a water purification system to treat your well water (ie. UV light, chlorinator, filters etc.) the system may not be operational without power. This means your water could be unsafe to use.
  • Municipal water source
    • If unsure, contact Halton Region to find out if your municipal water supply is safe to use.
  • If your water is not considered safe, use bottled water or boil/treat any water used for:
    • drinking
    • cooking
    • washing dishes
    • brushing teeth
    • washing and preparing food
    • washing your hands
    • making ice
    • preparing baby formula
  • When boiling water, bring it to a vigorous boil for at least 1 minute.
  • Contact Halton Region for information on how to treat water for use.