Food and Medication Safety during Power Outages

Medication Safety

Some drugs require refrigeration to keep their strength, including many liquid drugs.

When the power is out for a day or more, throw away any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise.

If a life depends on the refrigerated drug, but the medications have been at room temperature, use them only until a new supply is available.

Replace all refrigerated drugs as soon as possible.

Consult your pharmacist with questions about medication storage and maintaining a supply during a prolonged outage. A list of commonly used refrigerated medications and the length of stability is listed in the guide called "Stability of Refrigerated Drugs."

Food Safety

During a prolonged power outage, your food may become unsafe to eat and increase your risk of illness. Medications that need to be refrigerated may also become less effective or stop working. It is important to plan ahead and protect your health during a power outage.

If you are not certain food is safe, discard it! Check whether spoiled food is accepted for composting by your compost service provider. 

In areas where service provider accepts food for composting, spoiled food may be discarded into compost carts together with soiled, stained, or wet paper items, like pizza boxes, egg cartons, paper food packages, towels, cups, plates, and bowls.

If you have lost power for a prolonged period of time, discard the contents of your refrigerator/freezer:

Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked. The decision whether to discard or to save food is listed in the guide, “Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save It and When to Throw It Out.”

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).

If you have any accessibility needs related to Napa County's response to PG&E's public safety power shutoff (PSPS), please email

Appropriate decision-making before, during, and immediately after power outages is necessary to protect people from unsafe food and minimize product loss. 

The food items of concern are those that are potentially hazardous foods (PHF). Generally, PHF are moist, perishable foods in and on which bacteria can grow most easily during the time when the food is held in the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F). If you have questions or would like additional information contact Napa County Environmental Health at (707) 253-4471.