Every now and then, you stumble across a life hack that makes you go “why didn’t I think of that sooner?!” Almost every Idahoan and Californian owns a freezer, whether it’s in their kitchen, their garage or their basement, which means this is a life hack that all of us can use. 

Sudden power outages can be caused by so many different things. According to Nature’s Generator, about 70% of outages in America are caused by severe weather like high winds, heavy snow or lightning. Other factors like equipment failures, accidents that take out power poles and “line interference” can cause them too. The last one is a fancy way of saying that an animal or tree branch has come in contact with a powerline.

California Has the Most Power Outages Per Capita

According to Payless Power, over the past 20 years California ranks #4 for the most number of outages per capita and ranked #1 for the number of outages in those 20 years. In 2022, the Golden State accounted for 24% of all power outages in the country. In 2022, they had 1,204% more outages during the winter months than the national average. 

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash
Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

Idaho had so few power outages per capita that we didn’t even rank on Payless Power’s list. That said, we’re not immune to random outages. We remember coming home from FitOne and not being able to get into our garage. We had no idea what was wrong with the garage door until we looked at the clock in our bedroom and realized the power was out. How long was it out? We had no idea. And naturally, that’s when we started worrying about the food in our refrigerator and freezer. 

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According to the CDC, food in your refrigerator should stay good for up to four hours. Perishables in your full freezer should make it 48, but if the freezer is half empty that time is cut in half. This all depends on you NOT opening the door. 

A 25 Cent Solution to Power Outages and Food Spoilage

And that’s where this viral life hack comes in handy, especially if you’ve been vacationing away from your home while an outage occurred! Simply fill a coffee cup with water and set it in your freezer. Once the water is frozen all the way through, place a quarter on top of the ice and return the mug to your freezer. 

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash
Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

If you come home to flashing clocks and suspect that the power may have been out for an extended period of time, open the freezer and look at the mug. If the quarter is sitting at the bottom of the mug UNDER the ice, it’s a sign that the food in your freezer thawed and then froze again AFTER the power had come back on. You should toss it just to be safe. 

If the quarter is still on top of the mug, you’re in the clear! 

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