How a Quarter Can Tell You If Your Food Went Bad During a Power Outage

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This trick is so simple—and so worth doing.

If you’re anticipating a big snowstorm, protecting yourself and your loved ones will be your first priority. But that’s not the only way you need to prepare a winter storm—winter power outages can be just as dangerous, if not more, than the storm. Perishable items like meat and dairy products could be at risk, too; if your home loses power, your fridge won’t keep them cold, and they could spoil.

No need to worry, though. Thanks to this brilliantly simple trick, you’ll know if the power went out while you were gone—and if the food in your fridge is still safe to eat. By the way, you should also memorize the ways every homeowner should prepare for a power outage.

In her Facebook post, Sheila Pulanco Russell explains what you need to do. First, place the cup full of water in your freezer. Once it’s frozen all the way through, take it out and put a quarter on top of the ice. Then, put back the cup—with the quarter—and leave it there when you head out the door.

You might already know where we’re heading with this. Upon returning home, pull the frozen cup out of your fridge again. You’ll ideally want to find the quarter exactly where you left it: on top. Why? That indicates your freezer’s contents stayed frozen the entire time.

The quarter’s location will also be a sign that your power went out, and in that case, your food might no longer be safe to eat. If the quarter has moved to the bottom of the cup, then you’ll know your food became defrosted while you were gone. A quarter in the middle suggests that the food is likely still OK, since it only partially thawed. Still, you should throw it out if you have any concerns, Sheila says. Next, find out the 13 things you should never do during a power outage.


  • Country Living: “You Should Always Put a Quarter on a Frozen Cup of Water Before a Power Outage”

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for