Food Safety During Hurricane Season

The official hurricane season begins June 1st and lasts through November 30th. According to a comprehensive summary by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, South Carolina has an 80 % chance of being impacted by a tropical storm yearly. September has seen the highest total of named storm impacts and landfalls. Hazards of tropical storms and category hurricanes include storm surge, inland flooding, wind, and tornadoes. These hazards can cause road and home damage and power outages for periods of time. When power is out for some time, it can cause foods in your refrigerator and freezer to spoil. If storms impact your area, here are some food safety tips during power outages:

A woman holding a cellphone in front a refrigerator.

A woman holding a cellphone in front a refrigerator.
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  • Keep appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below. The freezer should be at 0 °F or below.

Prepare for emergencies and natural disasters:

  • Freeze containers of water and gel packs to help keep your food at 40°F or below.
  • Have a cooler and frozen gel packs handy if you must remove your food from the refrigerator to keep it cold.
  • If you think the power will be out for a long time, buy dry ice or block ice to keep your food cold in the refrigerator.


  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • If the doors stay closed, food will stay safe for up to:
    • 4 hours in a refrigerator.
    • 48 hours in a full freezer; 24 hours in a half-full freezer.
  • If the power has been out for 4 hours, and a cooler and ice are available, put refrigerated perishable foods in the cooler. To keep them 40°F or below, add ice or a cold source like frozen gel packs.


  • Never taste food to determine if it is safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Throw out perishable food in your refrigerator (meat, fish, cut fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and leftovers) after 4 hours without power or a cold source like dry ice. Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • Check temperatures of food kept in coolers or your refrigerator with an added cold source. Throw out food above 40 °.
  • If you have an appliance thermometer in your freezer, check to see if it is still at 40 °F or below.
    • You can safely refreeze or cook thawed frozen food that still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below.

Eat Safe Food After a Power Outage (

You can find out more information about keeping food safe after a disaster or emergency and during power outages at the CDC website.



If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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