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What to do with a fridge full of food during a major weather system

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The biggest worry for some people in the event of a storm is not the loss of light or water or damage to the house, it is the potential loss of all the meat in the freezer.

Hurricane Matthew can still do much damage here, so here are some tips on what to do with a full freezer in the event of a major weather system such as this.

1. Knowing the inventory is important. If the power goes or threatens to go, you will have to ensure you consume the most perishable, items first.

2. Always pack those close to the front of the freezer door so they are easily accessible.

3. Things that are highly perishable such as leftovers, soft cheese, fruits and vegetables, will stay fresh for up to six hours after the power goes out; eat those first.

4. Soon after, be sure to cook the meats - all of them. Cooked meats are easier and safer to store than raw ones.

5. The food in your freezer will last longer if the freezer is full. To do this, shove all the food close together to minimise heat loss. Fill any empty space with freezer bags filled with blocks of ice. The larger the ice block, the longer it will last.

6. Minimise the number of times you open the freezer. As a general rule, a full freezer that stays unopened will keep food safe to eat for two days, while a half full freezer will only keep food fresh for one day.

7. Several factors affect how long food will stay frozen. Chest Freezers (deep freeze) will keep food safe longer than upright ones.

8. It is wise to keep your deep freeze in a cool place so that the temperature inside stays low longer.

9. Perishable foods held above five degrees for more than two hours will not be safe to eat. Trust your nose in these instances. If it smells funny, throw it away. Better a few lost dollars than a runny tummy and no running water.

10. The best way to prepare for a power outage is to have a

back-up plan for your refrigerator. A good investment is a large igloo. This can turn out to be your best friend in the event of an evacuation or even if you have to stay without power for extended periods. And remember, it's not a wasted investment. A big igloo is great after the storm for picnics and outings.

- Contributed by Weather Data Associates