What to do if the power goes out
Isn’t it horrible when you’re watching your favourite TV programme and it’s a really tense moment, you’re on the edge of your seat… and then the power goes out. The first inclination is to scream at the television and blame whoever is nearby / whoever you are in a mood with at the time. But what should you really do?
The first thing to do is not to panic and to check whether you are the only one without power, or if it has affected the neighbouring houses as well. This is easy to do as you can look outside to see if anyone has any house lights on, or alternatively during the evening and at night, you can look out to see if the street lights are on. If other people have been affected, then there isn’t much you can do other than sit and wait for the power to come back. If the power remains off for more than an hour, you could try calling your electricity supplier* to find out what the problem is. What you should not do is call 999. It is not a police emergency and you could be stopping a real emergency from getting through.
If you appear to be the only one without power, the next step is to check the fuse box in your house. Open it up and see if any of the trip switches are in the “off” position. If it is, it’s more than likely a fuse has blown or a light-bulb has blown resulting in the power going off. Flip the switch back up. If it doesn’t flip back up, or keeps going back to off, then it is likely that an appliance or bulb has blown. To find out the problem, you must go through each trip switch to find out which has blown individually. When you find the one that won’t go back up, you’ve found the appliance. You will have to repair or replace the said item.
You should always be prepared in case of a power cut, so be sure to have several torches in the house at all times, along with spare batteries. Other battery powered lighting such as camping lanterns are also recommended, and be sure they are charged at all times, particularly when you know there will be bad weather, as the power is more likely to go off during storms. Make sure you have extra duvets or blankets in the house to keep yourself warm at night if there’s not heating.
If there is a power cut, make sure you don’t open your freezer, as this lets the cold air out, and there is no power to restore the temperature once the door is closed, and your food may defrost and have to be thrown away. Keep the door closed, and use alternative sources of food. As long as you don’t open the door, your food should be safe for a couple of hours.
Remember – don’t panic! If you are worried, use a mobile phone to call family or friends and see if you can go stay with them until the power is back, or have someone visit you to keep you company.
* If you don’t know your electricity supplier you can visit: http://www.npower.com/
This page gives you the phone numbers and addresses of all the electricity suppliers in England.