Protecting contents of freezer in power outage

Why you should put a quarter on a frozen cup of water before the shutoffs

Updated: 9:42 PM PDT Oct 8, 2019 SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

With planned PG&E power outages for more than 800,000 Californians on the horizon, here’s a simple trick used often by those in major storms that may be a big help.

If you’re worried about the food being safe to consume when the power returns, try this viral quarter hack that originally came from Sheila Pulanco Russell in North Carolina. Advertisement

As she explained in her Facebook post, all you need for this trick is a quarter and cup of water. Put the water in the freezer until it’s frozen solid. Then, take it out and put a quarter on top of the ice. Return the cup — with the quarter — back to the freezer.

All of that may seem pointless, but there’s a reason this trick resurfaces time and time again. When power has been restored, if you find the quarter has moved to the bottom of the cup, then you’ll know your food was unrefrigerated for a significant period of time and it’s no longer safe to eat.

Found the quarter in the middle? The food is likely still OK, but, as Russell advised, “If you don’t feel good about your food, just throw it out.”

Where you ideally want the quarter to be is exactly where you left it — on the top. That means your freezer’s contents stayed frozen the entire time. Genius, right?

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