Commercial Kitchen Tips: How to Not Lose Inventory When the Power Goes Out

Power outages are not always predictable. It is easy to prepare for an outage when a hurricane is racing up the coast or a blizzard is blanketing the Midwest. Sometimes, however, they occur spontaneously and during the most peaceful weather conditions. It could be a squirrel losing a battle with a transformer, a large tree limb that finally gave up the ghost, or any number of other minor problems that suddenly turn into a serious issue for a business owner. Protecting food supplies will be the main concern at this moment, and one of the easiest, and most affordable options is dry ice.  

Why use dry ice for emergency situations? 

Dry ice is the coldest method available. It turns from a solid into a gas so there is no concern about collecting melting water or food being ruined by the moisture. It is readily available from most ice delivery services and established customers can usually arrange emergency ice delivery services with a supplier like United City Ice Cube by planning ahead. 

How long will dry ice last? 

The shelf life of dry ice will vary depending on the size of the block and the conditions where it is kept. It could last for hours if a large block is brought into a cold walk-in cooler and kept in a confined corner or shelf with the most delicate or valuable food products. Regular inspections of the ice is needed to guarantee the products are staying cold. 

Is it safe?

Dry ice is known as a dangerous material and it has to be handled carefully. There are two concerns with this product. It should not touch the skin and the fumes can build up as it turns to gas. To avoid any problems, the ice should be handled with tongs while wearing thick rubber gloves and it should never be stored in an airtight container. If it is in an airtight container, the carbon monoxide will build as the solid turns to gas, and it could cause the container to burst. The fumes may increase carbon dioxide levels in the room and cause dizziness or breathing difficulties. Anyone experiencing these issues should immediately leave the area. Leave a door or window cracked at all times to prevent to accumulation of fumes. 

Can it be stored for emergencies? 

There is no way for the average restaurant or commercial kitchen of any kind to store dry ice. At -109 degrees, it is much colder than the average freezer. Attempting to store it in a working freezer to make it last longer could cause the freezer thermostat to shut down. 

How is dry ice disposed of after use?

Safe disposal is necessary if the power returns while some solid dry ice remains. Place a bucket of water outside or in a well-ventilated room and drop the dry ice into the bucket. The block will turn into gas and safely dissipate. Do not attempt to flush the ice down a toilet or a drain. It could damage the fixture and cause pipes to crack.