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Stormy winter weather is one of the most common culprits of disrupted electricity supplies and so as winter approaches it’s important that you know how to cope with a power outage.
From ensuring that you have the correct supplies and contact numbers, to avoiding electricity surges, and checking on elderly or vulnerable neighbours, here CashLady looks at what to do when the power goes out.
Why do power outages happen?
You may experience a power cut for many reasons, but they are usually down to adverse weather, particularly in rural and exposed areas, or a non-weather-related problem with the network.
There are some checks that you can make to ensure that it is a power outage and not a localised problem with the wiring in your home.
Is it really a power outage?
- Are the street lights on outside? If they are, then it’s probably a problem with something in your house.
- Have your neighbours got power? If it’s just you without power, then it probably isn’t an outage.
- Has everything gone off? If it’s just your lights or certain appliances, then it might be an issue with your trip switches.
- Have you got a prepayment meter? Make sure you haven’t run out of credit.
What to do when the power goes out
Contacting your network provider
Once you have confirmed that the power is out you should contact your network provider for an update on the situation and see what support they can offer.
Your network provider is the company responsible for the network and not necessarily your electricity supplier.
Before winter hits, find out who this is and take a note of their contact details in case the power goes out and you don’t have enough battery in your phone or laptops to search for the details online.
You can search by postcode on the Energy Networks website.
Receiving updates on the power outage
For the latest updates on power cuts in your area, you could follow the National Grid on Twitter, pop on a battery-operated radio or look up local news stories online.
Supplies for a power outage
If the power goes out, especially for a long period, or during darkness, then you will require light, water and possibly food.
What you will need depends on the severity of the storm (if it’s weather related), the time of day and whether you live in the middle with of a city, with plenty of access to services, or a rural area where you may have to rely solely on what you have at home.
Since you don’t know when a power outage will strike, it’s best to stock up on some essentials, just in case.
You should have:
- A torch with batteries
- A lighter and matches
- Bottled water
- Non- perishable food items that can be eaten cold if you don’t have a gas cooker
- A gas camping stove ( if you have an electric cooker)
- A spare fully charged mobile phone
- A first aid kit
Preventing power surges during a power cut
Turning off all your electricals when the power goes out will help prevent a power surge when the power comes back on.
Keeping food cold during a power cut
Try not to worry if you have lots of food in your fridge and freezer.
Keep the doors closed and cover the appliances with a blanket and they should remain cold for many hours.
Checking on neighbours
If you know of any elderly or vulnerable people living locally then look out for them and go and check that they are comfortable and have everything that they need.
Perhaps help them organise to stay with their friends or family until the power outage is over.
Stairlifts and medical equipment
Mains operated stair lifts will stop where they are during a power cut.
Some have backup power, or a manual release handle so be mindful of this if you have a lift in your home and ensure that you know what to do if the power goes out.
If you have a medical condition or rely on medical equipment that would be severely affected by a power cut then discuss your concerns with your care providers so that you can cope with a power cut.
They may be able to give you a personal emergency plan, so you know exactly what to do.