In the event of a power outage, you don’t want to suddenly have to be scrambling around for supplies. So, while you do have power it’s a good idea to assemble everything you might need in one, easily accessible place.
Also, think about what you can do now to prepare for a power outage, as well as things to do during one, to make things easier for you and your family.
Here are 12 tips to make sure you’re prepared for a power cut.
Make sure you keep some torches and spare batteries to hand in case the power cut happens when it’s dark outside (you probably won’t want to use the torch on your mobile phone as this will drain its batteries more quickly). Make sure everyone in your home knows where these are kept, so the nearest person can retrieve them and then safely help others.
It’s not advised to use candles or any other naked flames to provide light, as these could pose a fire hazard.
It’s a good idea to make sure that you keep your mobile charged and ensure that some data is available in case Wi-Fi is down.
You might also want to have a fully-charged power bank available, in case you need to charge your phone, tablet or other devices.
Make sure you regularly charge any medical equipment that you rely on – you may also want to consider keeping a battery back-up available for these.
Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed to protect the contents. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), your fridge will keep food safe for up to four hours during a power outage, provided you keep the door closed as much as possible. The FSA says a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half full) if the door remains closed.
In a power cut you may not be able to use your kitchen appliances, so you might want to make sure there’s something available to eat that doesn’t require electricity or heat preparation.
It’s a good idea to switch off all electrical appliances that are not designed to run unattended – such as cookers, grills, chip pans, hair straighteners and electric fires – so that they don’t come on without you realising once the power is back. It’s also a good idea to unplug your TV and PC, to avoid damage to them in case of a surge when power returns.
Leave at least one light on in the house, so that you know when your electricity comes back on. If the power cut happens during daylight hours, it’s a good idea to turn one light switch on in case the outage continues into the evening.
You might want to boil some water and keep it in a thermos flask, as you can use it to make hot drinks or fill a hot water bottle if it gets cold.
Having some blankets and thick clothes ready and easily accessible, to keep everyone in your household warm, is a good idea. You can also reduce heat loss by closing doors on unused rooms and by closing curtains. Have a first aid kit handy too, in case of an emergency.
If you work from home, it’s a good idea to make sure you regularly save your work to make sure you don’t lose anything. If your computer has an auto-save function, make sure you enable this.
Many service stations can’t pump fuel during a power failure, so it’s a good idea to keep your vehicles fuel tank at least half full and to fill up if you know a power cut is coming.
It’s also useful to know how to manually open your garage door if you have an electric one, so you can get the car out if needed.
Power cuts will affect equipment such as stair lifts, bath hoists and adjustable beds. Make sure that any essential medical equipment has a battery back-up. This means you can keep using it, even if the power is out. If you have a stair lift, check it has a manual release handle, you can use this to return the lift to the ground floor if you have a power cut.
Backup power supplies and associated equipment should be regularly checked and maintained by a competent person. If you're concerned, you should speak to your medical equipment or health care provider as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know is likely to need extra support in a power cut, you can sign up for priority services. This means that welfare teams will keep you updated, often with an emergency number you can call, tailored support like hot meals and advice, and even home visits if needed.
Energy suppliers and network operators will keep a Priority Services Register. If you think you should be added, you need to contact your energy supplier or network operator.
How do I report a power cut?
If you experience a power cut that you weren’t expecting, you can report it by calling 105. This will connect you to your distribution network operator (DNO), who owns and maintains the power lines that connect to homes or businesses.