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How to Tell If Your Food Is Safe After a Storm or Hurricane

September 11th, 2017

You’ve been evacuated during a hurricane, leaving your fully stocked fridge with all your perishables behind. Twenty-four hours later, you’re back home and your lights are back on and everything is in working order. But how can you tell if your food is really still safe to eat?

During a stormy night or a power outage, the quarter-in-a-cup trick can potentially save you from eating something rotten and getting food poisoning—or worse.

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not you’ve lost power, which means you may have no idea if the food in your fridge is safe to eat or not. (Everything may feel cold, but what if the power went out in the middle of the night or while you weren’t home? How will you know how long things were geting warm or defrosting?) To avoid the unknown, all you’ll need is a plastic cup, a running faucet and a quarter.

First, fill the plastic cup up 3/4 to the top with water. (Tip: You’ll want to use a plastic cup since a paper cup may wear down and a glass cup could break.) Place the cup in your freezer and allow it to freeze fully. Once you’ve got a frozen cup of ice, place the coin on top of the ice, where it should sit sturdily.

Now, if your fridge has remained in working order, the penny will still be on top of the ice. But, if your fridge turned out and began to defrost, the ice will have turned to water and the coin will have sank to the bottom of the cup.

It’s a health-saving tip that’s quick, free and fool proof—and critical for hurricane season.

For more food and health saving tips, check out which temperature is perfect for your fridge, as well as FDA approved tips for Thanksgiving leftovers!