Power outages and insulin

We had a wind storm here last night and power got knocked out for large swaths of the city. My power was out from about 11 PM until almost 7 AM.

I read online that meat and such should be tossed after about four hours in a fridge without power, and my fridge and freezer were feeling pretty warm (my apartment is inexplicably always 25 degrees no matter what the outside temperature is), so I'll probably toss my meat to be on the safe side - except my ham sandwich which was already made and in an insulated lunch bag inside my fridge, so I'm hoping it's okay. (It better be as I'm travelling tomorrow! People in my office have been dropping like flies from a nasty virus - I've avoided it so far but feel like I've been fighting something off for the past few days, I don't need food poisoning on top of that!)

Anyway, what I'm really wondering about is my insulin. I had about four boxes of Apidra pen cartridges in there. Obviously they will be fine for a month, but what about after that? I'd hate to throw them all out.

I wouldn’t throw t the insulin. It didn’t get hot. It just got to room temperature for a few hours.

I’d your freezer didn’t defrost, the meat in it should be fine. If it and the meat did defrost, the may should be either cooked immediately or thrown away.

Unfortunately, I had to leave for work just as the power came on, so I didn't have a chance to check my freezer in detail, but it wasn't at room temperature, just warmer than usual. I'm kind of paranoid around food, though... :) I only had one meat item in the freezer (and one in the fridge), the rest is all non-dairy, non-egg, non-meat stuff that doesn't matter.

The four hour time frame for refrigerators is an expensive, ridiculous, overly conservative rule of thumb for folks that don't know any better - sort of like hospitals and how they treat diabetics to 'prevent' hypoglycemia.

It's far more reasonable to use a thermometer to actually measure the temp and only start to trash perishable stuff that has reached 40F for two hours or more. In my experience that is somewhere around 10-12 hours - in Florida in the summer during the daylight hours.

The freezer is good for at least 48 hours.

This coming from someone very distrustful of questionable food.

If insulin can last three years, or more, at 46F I'm pretty confident that it can withstand some 'brief' excursions at higher temps.

Plus, you can move some of the frozen stuff to the fridge to keep it cool. Keep an old milk jug full of frozen water in the freezer. It will extend the time quite a bit. When hunting, I use two such milk jugs in my 75 gallon cooler and it lasts about 48 hours.

The insulin can easily be moved into a cooler for long term power outages.

Your insulin should be fine. Pharmacists have told me that unopened pens can spend 30 days at room temperature before being opened and still fully effective for their advertised lifespan after opening. Shipping from international mail order pharmacies takes 18 days to clear customs and they ship insulin every day to thousands of customers.

Totally agree wuth your advice. In some parts of Africa, power is epileptic and often requires generator usage. My son’s insulin can survive up to 12 hours in fridge (without constant opening/closing of doors). If longer, I transfer insulin to freezer or insulated cooler.

Well, it turns out that the 8-hour power outage turned into a 48-hour one. Apparently the power "came on" just before I left for work - for about ten minutes! When I got home it was out again, and stayed out all the next day until I had to leave town.

When I got home from work the first day (so the power had been out for about 18 hours at that point) I checked the temperature in my fridge and freezer and it was 13 degrees in my fridge and 2 degrees in my freezer (I had only opened the door once or twice durig the entire power outage). The meat in my freezer was defrosted so I threw it out becuase I couldn't cook it with no stove and was leaving town the next day (not a big loss, maybe $5 of meat).

I was gone for about 36 hours (quick business trip) and the power was back on when I returned. Not much I can do about the insulin, but I'll just use it and just watch for my blood sugar going consistently high.

I live on the west coast and this is by far the longest power outage I have ever experienced - prior to this the longest was perhaps 3-4 hours!

Power outages are such a worry. I think your insulin will be fine though so I wouldn't throw it out. A large portion of mine was fine after being too cold but not completely frozen when I put it in the freezer during a power failure and the power came back on while I was out. I've just come to the end of that insulin recently. Someone here told me at that time it is better for it to get a bit warmer rather than colder, or completely frozen. It is a lot less fragile than we think.