What to do if the power goes out before or during Thanksgiving

Posted at 2:36 PM, Nov 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 14:50:16-05

CLEVELAND — With High Winds Warnings and Advisories in effect across our area, there is a good chance of widespread power outages in the hours before the Thanksgiving. Don’t panic.

Be prepared

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has a good list of everything you should have in a storm kit in case the power goes out:

· Portable, battery-powered radio
· Flashlights
· Extra batteries
· Manual can opener and bottle opener
· A supply of non-perishable foods needing little or no cooking (Be sure you pack any special dietary foods, baby food and formula, if needed.)
· Water stored in clean, non-corrosive, non-breakable, tightly covered containers such as soft drink bottles — plan for at least two quarts per person per day
· Personal hygiene products, sanitary supplies, diapers and first aid supplies
· Ice chest and ice or frozen ice packs
· Camp stove or canned heat stove, and fuel for three to five days; or hibachi grill and charcoal
· If possible, have access to a cellular phone. Your home’s hardwire or cordless telephone may not work without electricity

Click here for more tips from PUCO, including how to report the outage and what to do if there’s a medical emergency.

Ensure your cold and frozen food stays safe to eat

If an outage does strike, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, the USDA recommends. A fridge will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept shut, and a full freezer will holds its temperature for about 48 hours, or half that time if it’s half-full.

A common mistake is to use the cold weather as an informal outdoor refrigerator. The USDA says that outside temperatures can vary, causing chilled food to enter the “danger zone” — warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and colder than 140 degrees, which will cause frozen food to begin thawing. It can also be exposed to animals and unsanitary conditions.

Instead, refrigerators and freezers without power can still be used as old-fashioned “iceboxes” simply by filling them with fresh ice, the USDA recommends.

Once power returns, check the temperature inside the fridge or freezer. Any perishable food – meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers – that has been above 40 degrees for more than two hours should be tossed.

The USDA says any partially-thawed food can be refrozen if is still contains ice crystals or below 40 degrees. Throw out any food with an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to the touch. When in doubt, throw it out.

What if my turkey is still in the oven when the power goes out?

If the power goes out while the bird is still in the oven, you have about 30 minutes to get it to a new cooking location before bacteria starts to grow, an expert with the USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline explained to ABC News.

One option is to preheat an outdoor grill, then transfer the turkey to it from the oven to finish the job. If it’s windy, though, use caution when lighting the grill, and avoid standing near trees and branches that could come crashing down.

If you’re looking for more advice, whether the power is out or not, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline number is 888-MP-HOTLINE.

Dinner’s covered, but the power is still out – what now?

If you can’t watch the game or any Thanksgiving specials – such as The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration airing at 8 p.m. on News 5 – you may have to… to your family.

News 5’s John Kosich found some solid advice to keep Thanksgiving from devolving into a political battle royale.

"Kind of think about it as a workplace event,” said Lori Long of Baldwin Wallace University. “We talk a lot about workplace civility and I think that transferring that to the family event makes a lot of sense."

Read more advice here: If you think it's safe to talk politics again at Thanksgiving dinner, think again and plan ahead

The blog HouseBeautiful has a good list of 18 games you can play with your family on Thanksgiving – none of which require electricity.

If all else fails - you've got some paper, you've got something to draw with, you've got a hand - time to draw some turkeys!