When the power goes out in your home, it’s often caused by one of two reasons:
It’s isolated to your home only, and it’s likely a faulty electrical appliance has triggered your safety switch. This is a GOOD thing and means your safety switch is working properly! Learn more about safety switches.
It’s a street- or suburb-wide power outage, likely caused by severe weather like storms, high winds, and lighting. Your house isn’t the only one affected, so the responsibility lies within the power companies to restore electricity. This is where we want to concentrate.
There are a few things you can do before, during, and after a power outage to ensure safety for your home, yourself, and your family. Read on!
Preparation before a power outage
Sudden power outages can be frustrating, and while unexpected, there is one major thing you must do: prepare an emergency kit.
Prepare your emergency kit
We hope it will never need to be used, but should the unexpected occur, you’ll be grateful that you’ve taken the time to make up this kit.
- Spare batteries
- First-aid kit
- Non-perishable food
- Matches and candles
- Baby supplies if there’s a baby in the household
Here in Melbourne it’s not likely that a power outage will last more than a few hours, but if you’re at home with the family – especially young ones – it’s important to have a few snacks, as well as water, on hand. Don’t forget to think about your pets, too.
During the power outage
A power outage can strike at any time of the year! The first thing you should do is locate your emergency kit, find your torch, and check your power board. If your safety switch has not tripped, it’s like the issue goes beyond your home.
Once you’ve determined that the power outage is affecting more than your own home, do a quick dash around the home and switch off all appliances (especially major ones like the televisions, air conditioning units, and microwaves). You might like to leave one lamp on so you will know when they power resumes.
Ensure you keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Most food in the fridge can last for several hours if the door remains closed. A freezer can maintain its temperature for up to 48 hours without power.
While you might also instantly think of candles, you should also invest in a durable and high quality torches as a means of emergency lighting. You might like to avoid candles if possible as they can pose a fire risk, especially with little ones around.
For some kids, a blackout can be pretty thrilling… but for others, it instils fear and anxiety.
Grab their favourite book and read it aloud to them, dust off an old board game, or play with their usual toys. If they’re feeling unsettled, the best thing to do it keep them occupied with familiar activities. Low-impact activities will help to keep them calm and comfortable.
After the power outage
Electrical companies work hard and try to get your electricity up again as quickly and safely as possible after a severe storm. Their first priority is to remove the dangers around any fallen power lines, and once power is restored to critical infrastructure like hospitals, they work to get our homes connected again.
Do NOT touch any electrical appliance, wire, cord etc. if you suspect it has been damaged.
Remember above how we said to unplug larger appliances like televisions? This is to reduce the chance of appliance damage from an unexpected voltage or power surge when the electricity returns.
If you’re concerned about the safety of your fuse box or safety switch, call a licensed emergency electrician who can inspect it and deem it safe.
Throw out any food that as an odd colour or odour. If you’ve been without power for less than 2-4 hours, most food should be OK if it was kept in an unopened fridge… but if in doubt – get rid of it.
Power’s out? Relax
There’s really nothing you can do to make a power outage end sooner, so the best thing to do is to be prepared for the unexpected with your emergency kit, and remain calm. Any external damage to power lines remains the responsibility of power companies – and they will work hard to quickly remove any danger.