A power outage can be a memorable occasion, although usually for the wrong reasons! Hands up if you’ve missed the final moments of a sporting match on TV or woken up in sweltering heat because the air-con has switched off?
There’s never a good time for a power outage to occur, and despite your best intentions you may not always be adequately prepared when it hits.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do during a power outage which will help make the situation as stress-free as possible. Follow our 8-step plan below.
1. Use a torch, not candles
When a power failure occurs people naturally dash to light every candle in their home.
Although candles may look pretty they are also a fire hazard and dangerous to use as the main source of lighting during a power outage.
A much safer option during a power cut is to use torches or battery-powered lanterns. Only use as much lighting as is actually required – don’t light up every room in your house – and be sure to keep one torch unused to have as a backup.
2. Identify the source of the power outage
Power outages can occur due to storm damage, accidents, damage to power lines or a faulty appliance within your home.
In the first instance check whether your neighbours have power to establish if the outage is isolated to your home or impacting the entire neighbourhood. If the power failure is only affecting your home check your circuit box to reset any electrical switches which may have been tripped by a faulty appliance or broken light bulb.
For power failures to the entire neighbourhood you should call your power company’s dedicated number to report the power outage and provide any information on fallen power lines you may be able to see. Do not approach fallen power lines under any circumstances.
Your power company will also be able to provide you with information on possible outage times and affected areas.
3. Switch off appliances
Turn off all appliances to ensure that when the power is eventually restored there is no damage from an electrical overload.
Switch off all televisions, computers, heaters or cooking appliances in your home. Leave one light on so that you know when the power has been restored.
4. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed
Keeping fridge and freezer doors closed will help to ensure cold and frozen foods remain unspoiled for as long as possible, and minimise the financial burden of having to discard wasted food items due to the power failure.
The majority of refrigerated foods will remain cold in an unopened fridge for several hours while items in a freezer can remain frozen for between two to four days.
If available, use blocks of dry ice during an extended power outage to preserve foods as an alternative to your refrigerator or freezer – dry ice is readily available in Australia from one of BOC’s Gas & Gear stores.
5. Turn on the radio and use your smartphone wisely
In our digital age it is natural to use our smartphones and laptops to stay connected, informed and occupied, however during a power failure charging your phone is not easy.
Intermittently check social media and local authority websites for updates on weather warnings and information on restoration times. However, avoid draining the battery on smartphones and laptops through unnecessary use, to ensure they are available if required to communicate with emergency services and your power provider.
As an alternative, stay updated with regular information and weather warnings from local authorities through a battery operated radio.
6. Use a generator cautiously
You can plug appliances directly into a generator, however, connecting the generator directly to your household electrical system is dangerous as it can send electrical currents through the power lines and severely injure or kill an electrician working to repair power lines.
Never use a generator inside your home or garage; ensure they are situated outside to avoid the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
7. Be aware of the climate
If your power failure occurs during winter take steps to keep warm by keeping doors closed, place a folded towel along the bottom of doors to conserve warmth and keep your body covered with layered clothing, gloves and scarves.
In warmer climates take steps to stay cool by moving to the lowest area in your home, wear lightweight clothing and drink plenty of water. If the power failure is for an extended period of time and it is safe to do so, visit a cooler environment that still has power, such as a movie theatre or shopping centre.
8. Have a plan
If a power failure is expected to last for an extended period of time ensure you have a family meeting to discuss a disaster management plan that you and your family can follow for a variety of scenarios. Include a meeting place for your family and an awareness of how to manage and ration food and water.
If you use electricity for water, ensure you have enough available to last a few days. Each individual requires at least three litres of drinking water per day for drinking and cooking so be sure to ration water supplies as required.
Most importantly, stay calm and leave the restoration of power to the experts. Do not approach fallen power lines, trees or debris and contact your emergency services should you need immediate advice or assistance.
At Bulk Energy, we’re always here to help; if you’re experiencing a power outage please call us on 1300 46 2855 (1300 GO BULK) and we will get in touch with your power company and let you know when your service is likely to be restored.