What to do in a power cutThis evening’s adventures has inspired tonight’s post. I started to write my top tips on Facebook about what to do in a power cut I had so many, so here’s a blog post instead!

First steps:

First thing is to check whether it is just your home which has been affected by the cut. Check your fuse box to ensure all fuses are in the correct direction. Take a look outside too and see if your street is in complete darkness. This might be difficult to tell during the day so it can be worth having a chat to neighbours to see if they’re experiencing any issues too.

Next call 105.

This is a free number to call and will automatically direct your to your power provider. It will ask you if you are ringing about a power cut. If you select this they will tell you where you are calling from (this could be useful in other circumstances too!) and then they’ll give you an approximate time for the power to come back on and where possible the reason for the cut. You can check progress here.

At home.

Keep fridge and freezer doors closed to keep the cool in. Check your home insurance too as many cover spoilt freezer food as a result of electrical failure.

Check what charge you have in phones, laptops and other portable devices. Remember it is possible to charge a mobile from an already charged laptop. If there are supplies you need light to go find, gather these together first for example trips to the garage in the dark to collect batteries, torches and matches. Use what power you do have sparingly just in case the cut is prolonged for longer than expected.

If you’re lighting candles whilst you’re already in the dark take extra care. Have someone hold a torch or the light of a mobile whilst you light any matches.

Switch off all electrical appliance that shouldn’t be left unattended, ready for when the power returns.

Leave one light on if you’re wanting to know when the power is back. If you’re giving in and just going to go to bed, make sure you turn all the lights off and TV etc off at the wall if you don’t want a rude awakening!

Check on your neighbours.

In particular anyone you know to be vulnerable. Make sure you and them are able to wrap up warm if necessary.

Electronic locking systems will likely automatically switch to unlocked if the electricity supply is interrupted. You may need to make alternative security arrangements.

Check whether you’re entitled to any compensation.

You should be given two days notice for any power cuts but it is your local electricity distributor that is liable, not your power supplier unless you’re on a pre-pay meter.

If it is a planned cut but you haven’t been given two days notice, you can claim £30 but it must be claimed within one month.

If the power cut wasn’t planned, the amount of compensation depends on how many homes were affected and if it was caused by bad weather.

How much you could get:

If fewer than 5000 homes were affected, you’ll get

  • £75 if the power was out for longer than 12hrs
  • £35 for each following 12hrs

If more than 5000 homes were affected, you’ll get the same as above but with a maximum of £300.

If it was caused by bad weather, regardless of how many homes were affected, you can get:

  • £70 if it was off for 24hrs
  • £70 for each following 12hrs, up to a maximum of £700.

What you can do to prepare for a power cut in the future…

  1. Have a battery operated or wind up torch in your house. Also consider a wind up radio for any local news updates.
  2. If your kettle was recently boiled, store this hot water in a flask or hot water bottle to maintain its heat. 
  3. Have enough items of food in your cupboards that don’t require energy to heat them. 
  4. Keep an old fashioned corded phone in your house. New cordless phones require electricity but corded ones don’t as they use a different power grid.
  5. If you need extra support during a power cut e.g you require electricity for medical equipment, are elderly or have young children, you can e placed on the priority register. You can do this through your energy provider or by ringing 105 during a power cut.

Bonus tip – make the most of it! Talk to each other, call a takeaway or light a BBQ, have an early night, think of the money you’re saving on your electricity bill… It won’t last forever!