What To Do If Your Power Goes Out

Having your home plunged into darkness can be scary in the winter months, and at the very least inconvenient.

You might have been part way through your favourite TV show, cooking dinner or using the shower.

But whatever activities the cut stops in its tracks, there are a few practical steps you can take until power returns.  

It’s useful information to know, too. A report released earlier this year suggests we’re entering an age of increased power supply disruptions, due to increasing extreme weather events and a bumpy transition to new forms of power.  

Below, we explain how to work out whether you really have a power cut, and what to do if it’s for real.  

Check if it’s an isolated problem 

It could be that there’s an issue inside your home rather than a network problem.

See if the streetlights are on nearby and check whether your neighbours have power.  

If they do, go to your fuse box and make sure all the switches are still on as they could have fallen or ‘tripped’.

If you’re on a power prepayment meter, check you haven’t run out of credit.  

If all else fails, you could have a fault with your wiring. In this case it’s best to call a qualified electrician rather than trying to fix the problem yourself.  

Switch off electrical appliances 

Power faults bring a heightened risk of power surges which can damage your electrical appliances if you’re not careful.

Switch them off at the socket to be on the safe side until everything’s running as normal.   

It’s still worth leaving at least one light switched on though – otherwise you might not realise when power returns! 

Contact your network operator 

You’d be forgiven for thinking you need to contact your energy supplier when the power goes off.

But they’re only responsible for selling your electricity, not for maintaining it, so you’ll need to find the network operator for your local area instead. 

The quickest way to do so is to call 105 for free. Alternatively, use the Energy Network Association’s postcode checker, and keep up to date with news on the National Grid’s social media channels.  

Take emergency action 

It’s often difficult to know how long a power cut will last, so you’ll want to stay safe and comfortable in the meantime.

Wrap up in warm clothing and blankets if it’s cold, and close windows and internal doors to trap heat in.  

Torches are the safest way to stay lit. If you have to use candles, stand them on a sturdy surface away from pets and children.

You could invest in a back-up generator if power cuts are a regular occurrence where you live. 

Keep chilled and frozen food safe 

Fridges and freezers will keep food cool for a while, but there are steps you can take if you’re in it for the long haul. 

  • Buy bags of ice to fill your freezer draws 
  • Store foods close together so they keep each other cool 
  • Avoid opening the doors where possible  

If power returns but foods like raw meat or fish have been warming up for several hours, it’s generally best to throw them away. 

With these practical tips in mind, you’ll be well prepared for your next power cut.  

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