With more than 17,000 without power in Genesee County, the Genesee County Health Department offers up these tips to keeping food safe during a power outage:

Losing electricity can make the food in your refrigerator and freezer unsafe to eat. Always keep the food in your refrigerator at or below 40 °F to prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your food. A refrigerator thermometer will help you know if your food is staying at a safe temperature. Perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for over 2 hours should be discarded. Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about the first 4 hours of the power outage as long as you keep the door shut. If you are without power for more than 4 hours, use coolers with ice to keep your food cold and safe. Separate coolers should be used for raw meats and other perishable items. A freezer will keep food frozen for 24-48 hours if you keep the door closed.

Be prepared for any emergency by having canned or boxed foods at home because these foods don’t require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on an outdoor grill. Be sure to keep a hand-held can opener for use during a power outage. Have at least a three day supply of drinking water set aside for emergency use.

For more information on food safety during a power outage, visit www.usda.gov or www.foodsafety.gov.