How to Extend the Life of Your Refrigerated Goods Once the Power Goes Out in a Storm

Would you know what to do with your food if you know a storm is coming?

As catastrophic flooding is accompanied by power outages in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, it may not take long for the food in your refrigerator to go bad.

Read: How You Can Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

For food kept cold by the refrigerator and freezer, the countdown starts the second the power goes out.

But there are ways to extend the life of the food before it goes bad.

Dr. Tom Montville is a food safety expert from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

He urges anyone experiencing an outage not to open the freezer, as Dr. Montville explains the food inside will last "up to 24 hours."

He said that once you know a storm is coming, take the perishables, like milk, eggs, and meat, and put those items in the freezer. 

Once you lose power, the greens are the first to go. Dr. Montville advises throwing out raw lettuce or leafy greens after four hours. 

Eggs can last longer and will remain edible up to eight hours after the power goes out.

Read: Hundreds Plucked From Catastrophic Floods as Texas Officials Plea for Harvey Aid: 'People Are in Need'

Condiments are generally fine to keep, especially if they have a vinaigrette base. Any creamy dressings should be thrown out, according to Dr. Montville.

He says hot dogs are a "tough call," because they are precooked, but there might be bacteria in the packaging. He believes they can last up to eight hours. 

Dr. Montville also advises not to do a taste test because there could be germs in the food that cannot be detected.

"The mantra for food safety is, 'If in doubt, throw it out,'" he said.  

Watch: Food Safety Expert Surprises Homeowners and Puts Their Kitchens to the Test