Power cuts happen for many reasons, sometimes power companies are doing maintenance work on the network and need to cut the power off to properties for a while, sometimes it’s due to stormy weather and at other times you might not know why the power outage has happened.
There’s rarely any notice given, you find yourself in the dark wondering what to do. Read this handy guide to help you prepare for the unexpected.
Right now, there are three things you should do to prepare:
- Find your fuse box. Fuse boxes tend to be in cupboards, or in the under stairs space, or in the attached garage or in the utility room. Familiarise yourself with the switches.
- Store the number 105 in your mobile phone with the name 'Power cut'. (More on this below.)
- Put together an emergency kit in a backpack, containing:
- Battery operated torches (one for each member of the family).
- Spare batteries.
- Wind-up radio.
- Tinned and dried food.
- Can opener.
- Spoons and forks.
- Warm blanket.
- First aid kit.
- Mobile phone spare battery pack (charged).
- List of local hotels and B&Bs with phone numbers and addresses.
Store the bag in an easy to access place in the main home, not in an outbuilding.
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If you have a power outage
If you experience a power cut, follow these steps:
- Firstly have a look at your fuse box to make sure one of your fuses hasn’t tripped. If a switch is in the off position, switch it back on.
- If it’s not your fuse box, take a look at neighbours’ houses to see if their lights are off as well.
- If they are, call 105, which is a free number that will put you through to your local electricity network operator – the company that manages the cables, wires and substations that bring electricity into local homes and businesses. Ask them what caused the outage and when they expect your power to be restored.
- Find your pre-packed emergency kit.
- Long electricity outages can be very disruptive, especially in cold weather, as your heating will probably be off, the kettle won’t work and electric hobs won’t be working either. If you have a gas hob this may be working, but you may need to light the flame carefully with a match as the ignition will be out of use. Take a torch out of your kit and go through the home to assess what is working and what isn’t.
- Decide whether you can manage to stay in the home or if you need to go somewhere else until the power is restored. If you need to leave, call friends or family to see if they have space for you, or call the local hotels and B&Bs from the list in your kit, but before you book a room do remember to check that they have electricity.
TIP: If your electricity is off for more than 24 hours you may be able to claim some compensation from your electricity distribution network operator or electricity supplier.