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Last updated: 20 May 2020
Power cuts can be annoying to say the least. While in the UK they’re quite rare and they usually don’t last very long, they do still happen. And the longer a power cut lasts, the more difficult it can be to get on with your daily routine. Read this guide to find out what you should do when a power cut affects you.
Is It Actually a Power Cut?
The most important thing to do in a power cut is not panic. Panicking won’t get you anywhere and most likely there’s nothing to worry about. The first thing you need to do is work out if it's there’s really a power cut or if it’s just your house. First, check the trip switches in your house to make sure its hasn’t just tripped.
Next, check if the street lights are on - if they're not it's probably because the power is down and it's not just you. Ask your neighbour if they have electricity - if not then it could be the whole street or area. Check if everything has gone off and not just the lights or appliances - if it's just one of these it could be an issue with your trip switches. If you have a prepayment meter, make sure you haven’t run out of credit.
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Report the Power Cut
Once you've established a power cut, you should report it to make sure the relevant people know and can help you. To do this, you need to get in touch with your network distributor. If you don’t know who this is you can easily find out by using the Energy Networks Association's postcode searcher.
Once you’ve got in touch with your network distributor, they should be able to let you know what’s going on. They might be able to give you an estimated time for when the power will be back or be able to give some idea of the cause. The National Grid website and their Twitter account is also a good way to get the latest news on power cuts in your area.
What Can I Do While the Power’s Out?
Once you have established there is actually a power cut and you’ve reported it, you now have a few hours before the lights come back on. Now what do you do?
Well, continue to stay calm. All there’s really left to do is wait. Power cuts don’t last forever, and it won’t be too long before you can pop the telly back on and relax. But there are some things you still need watch out for.
Keep an eye on the freezer - you may not be able to refreeze things once it has thawed so watch out. You should also switch off appliances at the plug. Sometimes electricity can surge and this can damage your belongings. But be careful. Do not do this if it's unsafe - your safety is the most important thing.
If you decide to go outside, don’t be tempted to try and fix the problem yourself. If you see any downed power lines, do not go near them. If they are still energised you could be seriously hurt. Leave it to the professionals. The best idea is probably to stay home and try and relax.
If you have torches use them instead of candles as these can be a fire hazard. But if you can’t find a torch and must use candles for light then be careful and enjoy the ambience.
Power cuts could occur at any time, and it’s rare to know when one will hit before it does. But there are things you can do to prepare for them to make sure you can deal with the dark times.
- Make sure you have torches to light your house
- Get a battery powered charger so you don't need electricity to charge your phone
- Keep your car's petrol tank full as petrol stations need electricity to pump petrol
- If you rely on a medical device that runs on electricity - make sure you talk to your doctor about a back-up plan and what to do in this situation
- If it's particularly cold make sure everyone in your household has warm clothes and blankets to cuddle up with in case the heating goes down
There you have it. Power cuts happen with very little warning and can be very stressful, but there is no need to panic with a little preparation.