If your home is affected by a power cut it can still be unexpected despite severe weather warnings.
We are heading into the time of the year when storms are most likely to happen. When storm-force winds and heavy rain bring down trees and power lines, the loss of electricity can last several hours or even a few days. We all hope to be lucky but any one of us could be living without power so we have prepared a guide on what to do when power lines are cut off.
Keep the lights on
- Have an adequate supply of new batteries for radios and torches in the house, and keep them all in an accessible place.
- A wind-up torch is essential in the case of a power cut.
- Take care if using candles and matches – place the candle in a heat-resistant bowl, which will not only reflect light but prevent fire if the candle is knocked over (cut long candles in half).
- If the power outage is protracted, make good use of the daylight to conserve your resources and get meals ready.
- If a power cut strikes, switch off electric cooker hobs and appliances for safety. Leave one light or a mains radio on so you know when the power is back.
Keep in touch
- It is worth investing in a portable mobile phone charger particularly in the case of a power outage because when the electricity goes the television, household radio, landline home phone and the internet go too.
- A manual wind-up charger or an in-car charger will also keep your mobile phone alive – remember to remove the phone when fully charged to conserve the car’s battery.
- Keep a note handy of the power company’s helpline – they may be able to inform you when the electricity will be restored.
- Remember, a wide locality may be affected by the power cut, including shops and services, and even mobile phone transmitters. Some extra cash and plenty of fuel in the car may be useful, but don’t anticipate popping out for a pizza. It’s best to avoid unnecessary travel until the storm is over – traffic lights will be down, and roads may be blocked. The local pharmacy could be closed too, so ensure you have an adequate supply of necessary medications.
- During a winter storm, a house without heat being generated will soon get cold. So it’s important not just to stay warm, but to stay warm safely.
- Extra layers of clothing will help to keep in body heat, and a blanket on the duvet will stave off the night chill.
- Close curtains and shutters (if you have them) to reduce heat loss through the windows.
- Keep some dry wood for your open fire or wood-burning stove – check the chimney flues are clean before using them.
- Modern household paraffin heaters are safe to use, but don’t leave them unattended.
- Never use a generator, barbecue or a fuel-burning camping stove indoors – these devices require adequate ventilation, or else they can produce poisonous carbon monoxide.
Survive in the kitchen
- While you can continue to cook on a gas hob during a blackout, owners of electric cookers will need some ingenuity to prepare meals.
- If there’s a risk of a power failure, set the refrigerator to the coldest setting to keep cool for longer.
- A full freezer will keep food frozen for about two days, and a fridge will keep cold for about 4 hours – open the doors only when necessary.
- Under our Home Insurance Contents policy we will pay for loss or damage to food in a fridge or freezer caused by a rise or fall in temperature.
- In very cold weather, fill empty plastic cartons with clean water and leave them outside to freeze for a cool box.
- Keep a stock of non-perishable canned and packet foods and have a manual can opener ready.
- Use perishable food from the fridge first, then easy-to-prepare meals from the cupboard which cook quickly, or else serve no-cook foods.
- Prepare and eat foods in their original containers if possible, as there may be no hot water for washing up.
- Take extra care when using an alternative cooking device, or an open fire to keep warm. If your home has a hardwired smoke or carbon monoxide detector, check the backup batteries are working.
A final word…
Check if any vulnerable neighbours are also well prepared.
Repairing storm damage can be very expensive but having the safety blanket of AA Buildings Insurance policy in place can cover your home against damage caused by storms.