As Typhoon Faxai slammed into Chiba Prefecture last Monday, it caused widespread damage and disruption. While the transport chaos at Narita Airport subsided relatively quickly, upwards of 640,000 homes were left without power throughout the prefecture because of toppled power lines.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the following day saw a severe spike in temperatures and humidity in the area that had to cope without air conditioning or refrigeration.
The video above is a very long news report showing how people in the area are coping with conditions that are arguably worse that the typhoon itself. However, at the part the video is cued to you’ll see something kind of jerky pulled by the reporters, which was noticed in other coverage of the disaster by Twitter user Assamu (@lemon2059).
▲ “Dear Mass Media,
When covering a power outage, please do not get the homes you visit to open their fridge doors. A refrigerator becomes cold storage even when the power is off. So if you open and close the door the cold will escape, the hot air will enter, and the contents will rot.
Last year when the typhoon hit Osaka I kept it closed for five days and the food inside was fine.”
As Assamu points out, the fridge’s sealing allows it to retrain cold air for some time, even when it isn’t producing any. However, the moment that seal is broken, the cold air rapidly escapes and the effect can be lost in a matter of seconds.
So, these doors should be opened as sparingly as possible and only when needed – not when a camera crew wants to get a shot of it.
Online, NHK seems to be the main target of backlash.
“I saw a reporter from the public broadcaster doing that. Obviously it was dark and had no power. I’m not sure what they were expecting.”
“Dumb NHK reporter: ‘Can you open the fridge a bit?'”
“I saw that too on NHK and thought the same thing!”
“That’s important information!”
“Or better yet, let them open it and then give them a bottle of ice to put inside. How about that, media?”
“My freezer lasted about two days during the Hokkaido blackout, but a fridge doesn’t need to stay as cold I guess.”
“NHK is a natural disaster.”
“There’s no way food would last five days in a fridge without power. False information like that is worse that what the media is doing.”
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the amount of time a fridge can keep food without power largely depends on both the quality of the appliance and the contents, but five days does seem like quite a stretch. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it is said that a freezer can hold out about two days without power if fully stocked and unopened. However, a fridge is only given a few hours under the same circumstances.
But the key lesson to take away from this is that the fridge is a still a valuable tool during a crisis and one that needs to be treated very carefully. So, when stocking up on supplies, remember that ice (or dry ice if possible) can be just as precious as food to prolong the fridge’s usefulness.
Sources: Twitter/@lemon2056, Hachima Kiko, USDA
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