Being prepared for a power outage

Caught up in an electricity black-out? Here’s the down-low.

Crazy weather, car accidents – even curious critters. Each are as unavoidable as they are unpredictable, and they’re just some of the more-common reasons behind power outages.

Whenever they hit, crews from your area’s electricity distributor will get to work quickly to get your lights back on. But depending on the cause, the wait can take longer than we’d like.

So while we hope it’s rare that you’ll ever have to remember, here are five things to think about whenever you find yourself without electricity.

1. Food

Gas cooking is popular across Australia, so many of us can find a way to keep ourselves fed at meal time whenever there’s a power outage.

But for households that are fully reliant on electricity, do avoid improvising if you’re looking to prepare hot food for yourself in the middle of a blackout. That’s because using appliances in ways in which they weren’t intended can put yourself and others at danger.

If the weather’s being kind, make it your excuse for heading outside for a barbeque. Or, if that’s not an option, perhaps just keep it simple with a sandwich until your kitchen is back up and running.

2. Light

Particularly for outages after dark, keep yourself safe from corners, trips and falls by having a reliable and portable light source handy.

Storing a few candles and a box of matches can be an easy and affordable fallback plan, but they can pose a fire hazard if they’re not handled carefully. So, especially if you’ve got young ones, battery-operated torches or camping lights might be a more sensible option.

Also, keep them at easy reach in a low, clear and accessible space to avoid putting anyone in the house at risk when it’s pitch black.

3. Appliances

Unless you’re out of the house at that very moment the power outage strikes, chances are you’ll be using appliances – from computers and televisions, to cooking gear.

If you find yourself in this spot, it can be a wise move to either unplug or switch off the appliances at the wall before the electricity comes back on. That way, should there be a surge in the supply when it’s restored, it’s less likely to cause damage to your appliances.

As for your fridge and freezer, be strong and stay out of them during the interruption. The more often you open their doors, the more cool air you’ll let out – putting any food or drink you’ve got stored inside at risk of spoiling.

4. Mobile phone

Keeping Australians connected to family, friends and the rest of the world, mobile phones can also distract us from the boredom that often comes hand in hand with a blackout.

But once your phone runs out of juice, you’ll likely find it’s downright useless until you next get a shot at recharging it – whenever that may be. (Unless you’ve got a portable recharging device that’s full of power, which can be useful day to day – not just during blackouts.)

So if your area’s electricity supply is ever interrupted, conserve your mobile phone battery’s power for making any necessary emergency calls by only checking social media for updates from your electricity distributor on the outage, and notifying loved ones of your whereabouts.

5. Entertainment

It’s a universal truth that one of the worst things about being left without electricity – and without any notice – is having nothing to do.

But thankfully, you’re bound to find there’s life left in board games and colouring books – two relics from the days before Wi-Fi, gaming consoles and social media. And given they run on enthusiasm rather than energy, you’ll have hours of entertainment on your hands.

And don’t forget about the grandfather of podcasts, either: the good old fashioned novel.