Parts of South Carolina suffered through severe weather this winter and now we’re approaching hurricane season. Despite your cooperative’s best efforts, these acts of nature can cause power outages.
Clemson Extension Service offers these tips for dealing with perishable foods during power outages:
• When severe weather is forecast, turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. The colder the food is before a power failure, the longer it will last.
• Buy two appliance thermometers to keep on hand. These are available at home improvement and specialty stores. During a period when a power outage is expected, keep one thermometer in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer to keep track of temperatures. For the refrigerator, temperatures cannot drop below 40 degrees for foods to be safe; for a freezer, the temp should not drop below 0 degrees.
• When bad weather is predicted, fill plastic bags with water and freeze them. Keep the freezer well packed with these bags.
• Group meat and poultry to one side of your freezer or on separate trays to be sure they do not leak on one another should they begin to thaw.
• Keep extra coolers and freezer-pak inserts on hand to add to the freezer and coolers if a power outage appears imminent.
• Know where you can buy dry ice. Use three pounds of dry ice per cubic foot of freezer space. A 50-pound block of dry ice placed in a full 18-cubic-foot freezer should keep food safe without electricity for two days.
• When handling dry ice, be sure to wear rubber gloves or use tongs. Keep the space well ventilated, as dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.
• When power returns, check the thermometers in the freezer and refrigerator. Discard any perishable that has been stored above 40 degrees for two hours or more and any food that is unusual is color, odor or texture.
• Thawed foods that still contain ice crystals can be refrozen unless they have been stored above 40 degrees for more than two hours.
• Thawed foods that do not contain ice crystals but have been kept at 40 degrees or below for two days or less may be cooked, then refrozen or canned.
• For more information, visit hgic.clemson.edu or call (888) 656-9988.
Source: Adapted from The State newspaper
• Give your electrical meter a holiday to save energy and money if you are away for more than two days. Turn off your electric water heater at the electrical panel. Adjust the thermostats on your air conditioner and refrigerator.
• The most obvious way to stay cool in the warmer months is to close the curtains and windows during the day.
• Open the windows and enjoy the comfort of cool evening air. This also improves air quality and removes humidity.
• Landscaping can also be an effective way of keeping sun from the windows and provide shade for your house.
• Try to avoid heating your home inadvertently with appliances. Consider using an outdoor grill and a clothesline, or add more cold foods and salads to your diet.
• Consider attic ventilation. This could improve your home’s comfort year-round. You could also save on energy costs because your air conditioner is not running to fight a hot attic.
• Exhaust fans and dehumidifiers will reduce the effects of humidity. Turn on the bathroom exhaust after bathing or open the window. When cooking on the stove, use a vent fan to exhaust heated air.
• Central air conditioning is more efficient than several window units. Although the initial cost may be higher, you could save on your monthly electric bill.
• Try to install your air conditioner in a shaded area. An air conditioner that is exposed to direct sunlight will consume 5% more energy than one that is shaded.
• Do not obstruct air movement.
• Even with air conditioning, fans will make you feel cooler and reduce the amount of time you need to run your air conditioner.
• Make sure the coils on your air conditioner are straight and kept clean. If they are clogged or dirty, you can clean them with a vacuum cleaner.
• Periodically check that the filter in your air conditioner is clean. Disposable filters should be replaced every one or two months.
• Use a programmable thermostat for central air conditioners. There is no need to cool the house when no one is home.
If you are using a central air conditioner, make sure you are cooling only the rooms that you are using. Close the vents in the rooms not being used.