Missouri summers are magical – fireflies, floating on the rivers, and those captivating summer storms. But what happens when those storms knock out power? St. Louis is no stranger to rolling summer power outages, and what’s worse is they usually come at the hottest part of the year. While we can’t prevent the outages from happening, your friends at O’Connor Insurance can help you curb your losses in the kitchen.
Obviously you want to err on the side of caution here. And, since you shouldn’t taste food to help determine whether it’s safe (harmful bacteria doesn’t always have a rancid smell or taste), here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you decide what to keep and what to toss once the power is back on:
- Throw away meat, poultry, and seafood once it’s been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Almost every home goods store sells internal read thermometers (most for less than $10). Not only are they good for instances like this, they are excellent tools to have year round.
- Discard milk, sour cream, yogurt, and soft cheeses after four hours at 40 degrees or higher. Butter and margarine, as well as hard and processed cheeses, should be OK.
- Toss mayo, tartar sauce, horseradish, and creamy dressings after eight hours at 50-plus degrees. Vinegar-based dressings, along with ketchup, barbecue sauce, peanut butter, and soy sauce are likely fine. One obvious tip to simply read the label – if it says “refrigerate after opening” and it is hovering at 70+ degrees for a day or two, the best practice is to throw it out.
- Refreeze food that still contains ice crystals, or is still below 40 degrees.
- Dispose of all food that has come in contact with flood waters or firefighting chemicals. Even if it looks unharmed, it could still be unsafe and – to a lesser extent – taste terrible.
We know it’s frustrating to have to throw out food, so try this simple trick to potentially help preserve it for longer: When the power goes out, keep the fridge and freezer doors tightly shut. The longer you keep them closed, the cooler they stay. If available, get a cooler and ice and salvage what you can, being careful to make sure the cooler stays cold.
Having appliance thermometers in your fridge and freezer, as well as picking up a food thermometer, will help eliminate some guesswork. Additionally, maintaining a nonperishable food supply in a safe place – somewhere cool that’s not susceptible to flooding – means you’ll have something to eat no matter what. Be sure to replace items as they expire or get used.
As for the cost of all that spoiled food? Your homeowner’s policy may help. If the value of the damages you claim is less than your deductible, you won’t have any coverage. However, if you have both home damage and spoiled food, filing a claim is the way to go. Give us a call at 314.434.0038 to discuss your options.