I get asked this question a lot from my patients. Some items in your fridge will last longer than others. Foods like hard cheeses, butter, fruit juices, jelly, ketchup, and uncut raw fruits and vegetables will last longer than perishable foods like eggs, fish, meat, and leftovers. Those items need to be kept at 40 degrees or colder. A good rule of thumb is that your fridge keeps food cold for about 4 hours if the power goes out, as long as the door is not opened. And, as the old saying goes, ‘When in doubt, throw it out!’

What If The Temperature Gets Above 40 Degrees?

In this case, many food items will last only about two hours. It’s very important that you don’t evaluate food safety based on looks or smells. And you definitely don’t want to taste the food. This is because, at certain temperatures, bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses can start growing pretty rapidly. So, if the power goes out, check out this handy cart provided by foodsafety.gov for detailed recommendations on what to keep and what to toss.

What About Water?

Plain water is fine at room temperature. Power outages often happen during hot months when lots of people are running air conditioning units. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially when it’s hot out. Stay on top of your fluid intake by keeping a reusable water bottle nearby where you can see it easily. Another trick is to drink a cold glass of water before a meal. You can also eat water-dense foods like watermelon, berries, and cucumbers. I will tell my patients to avoid beverages with caffeine because it can pull extra fluid out of the body. When it comes to hydration – plain water really is best.

Maintaining Body Temperature

It can be difficult to sleep when it’s hot outside. Eating large meals can raise your body’s temperature and take longer to digest than small ones. To maintain a more constant temperature, try eating smaller meals. You can also eat lighter fare like fruits and vegetables to generate less body heat. So, if you’re going to have a big meal, the earlier the better. Opt for lunch instead of dinner.

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