Like many Mainers, I live in a rural area.

I have no city water, so I have a septic system and a well. So today, thanks to the stupid storm, I have no power. Luckily, I have a generator, so I don't have to wonder what's gonna happen to the food in my freezer while I'm at work. Not everyone is so fortunate. Some may never know whether anything bad happened to their frozen food or not.

Portable electric generator running in the cold winter.
Vitaliy Halenov

If the power was out long enough for all your food to thaw and re-freeze, and you don't know it, you are at great risk for food-borne illness. Any food that sits at too long a time over 41 degrees, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. If the bacteria then freezes into the food, you may not actually be able to cook it out, even at high temps.

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So here's the trick...

When a storm is on the way, place a cup of water in your freezer, and leave it. When it's completely frozen, place a quarter on top. Say the power goes out and comes back on much later... Check the quarter on top of the frozen cup. If the quarter is still sitting on top, and hasn't really moved, then you know nothing thawed out in the freezer.

2021 Quarter Close Up In Hand

If the water is re-frozen, and the quarter is in the bottom, you know the power was out quite a while, and that everything in your freezer also thawed out. Sadly, that means you should be chucking the food that's in there. Food-borne illness is not something you really want to mess around with.

Tero Vesalainen
Tero Vesalainen

As hard as it will be to do, throwing out some food is waaaaay better than getting sick from eating it. Trust me, I've had food poisoning and it wasn't pretty. I got it at a restaurant, so it's a bit different. But, for real, throwing food away, is way better than throwing up.

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