Don't use snow to keep food cool if your freezer loses power, USDA says

By , NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

(KMOX) - Most Americans seem to be past the worst of the frigid temperatures and snow storms that have hit in the last week. But some are still dealing with power outages because of the extreme winter weather.

If your power does go out because of the cold temperatures, it could be tempting to put your food out in the snow and ice in order to keep them good while your power is out. But the USDA is saying it’s not a good idea.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t put your food outside:

- The sun’s rays could thaw out the food even though it’s below freezing outside.
- Temperatures could vary during the day and night causing the food not to be safe.
- Food being stored outside could be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals that could have bacteria or disease.

But here's what you should do:

- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed
- Coolers are a great help for keeping food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours—have a couple on hand along with frozen gel packs.

For a full list of helpful tips on what to do with your food if you lose power or if you need to know what to throw away and keep go to

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