Keeping food at a healthy temperature may be a challenge during a power loss.
Refrigerators keep dairy products, meat, fish, poultry and eggs at a healthy temperature if they are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If your power goes out, your refrigerator will stay at the proper temperature for about four hours if it's unopened. Placing ice bags or dry ice will help to maintain healthy cooling.
A full freezer will remain cool for about 48 hours, or for about 24 hours if half full. It's a good idea to have digital thermometers on hand to check the temperature.
Once the thermometer goes above the recommended temperature, avoid eating any dairy products, meat, fish, poultry or eggs. Throw away items that have been compromised.
The USDA suggests keeping a supply of canned and packaged foods that do not require refrigeration. Coolers are a good solution if your power will be on within 24 hours. And knowing where to purchase ice and dry ice is a good way to plan for an emergency.
The Mayo Clinic suggests stocking up on condiments, particularly those that are vinegar-based and have a long shelf life, such as ketchup, mustard and soy sauce.
Keep canned protein such as chicken, salmon, beans and peanut butter on hand, the clinic recommends, and keep boxes of powdered milk or shelf-stable milk cartons handy. Also, don't forget a manual can opener.
Eating out of a can doesn't have to be boring, says Ron Stone, assistant director of nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.
"There are many options to mix and match from your pantry, and with advance planning and a little creativity, you can provide healthy and delicious meals for your family," Stone says.
Clinic interns have created sample three-day meal plans to feed a family of four without the use of power or refrigeration, including desserts and energy bars.
The American Red Cross recommends that you turn off or disconnect any electrical devices that were in use when you lost power. This includes stoves and other kitchen appliances. That's because surges or spikes in power can harm your equipment when the power comes back on.
You can leave one light plugged in, though, so that you know immediately when the electricity works again.
It's a good idea to keep candles around, as well as a flashlight on every floor of your home. A battery-operated radio is also handy.