Power outages in the winter are never fun in Idaho. It gets cold quickly if you don’t have a fireplace and it’s annoying to have to reset all the digital clocks in the house. But, just because your house gets a little chilly doesn’t mean good news for your freezer and the food inside and a zeroed-out clock won’t always tell you how long the power was out. There is a hack that has been floating around for a few years that only costs 25 cents to set up and it could save you a headache during the next long-term outage.

The benefit of this hack is especially useful for times when you may have been away from your home for an extended period of time or on extra hot summer days.

Why Idahoans Should Keep a Quarter in Their Freezer

The hack is simple: fill a cup with water and freeze it. Once the water is completely frozen, place a quarter on top of the ice and then put it back in your freezer. Do this in all of the freezers in your house, shed, garage, or wherever else you keep food. This simple setup will help you know if a power outage was long enough for the items in your freezer to thaw to an unsafe level and could have spoiled.

What Happens if You Keep a Quarter in Your Freezer?

During a power outage, the temperature in your freezer will slowly rise above freezing. As this happens, the food inside will gradually thaw and at some point, the food could defrost enough to begin to spoil. If you have the quarter sitting on a cup of ice in your freezer, you can use it as an indicator of how long your power was out and if it defrosted too much for food to stay safe.

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You may open your freezer and see that everything is frozen again after a power outage, but if you look at the cup of ice and the quarter has sunk to the bottom, you know that everything in your freezer also thawed out and is most likely unsafe to consume and should be thrown out.

It’s a sad thought to throw out a freezer of food, especially if it is your backup freezer full of elk and venison. But it is better to throw it out than eat spoiled food.

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