Better energy

How to handle a power outage

How to handle a power outage

You’re in the middle of watching your favourite TV show or preparing a bite to eat after work, when suddenly the electricity turns off. There’s never a good time to lose power, but with this guide you can make the situation as painless as possible.

Locate the source of the problem

There are a number of reasons why the electricity in your house might go off, so the first thing to do in the event of a blackout is to check if the problem is inside your home; for example, a faulty appliance or broken light bulb might have blown a fuse or switched off the supply. You can do this by checking your trip switches or fuses to see if there is a fault with your wiring or an appliance. If the trip switch is set to the ‘off’ position or the fuses have blown, it’s likely that you have a faulty appliance or are having problems with your wiring. If you don’t feel confident tackling the issue then it’s worth calling in an electrician.

However if this isn’t the case – and your neighbours are also experiencing a power outage – you need to safety-proof your house for the duration of the cut.

Switch off your appliances

During a power outage you should turn off all appliances, but keep one light on so that you know when the power comes back on. While most of your appliances will be fine without power, your fridge and freezer might start to thaw so it’s important to keep the doors closed so the contents stay cool for as long as possible. Once the power comes back on, make sure any frozen food has not defrosted or any refrigerated food hasn’t spoiled.

It’s important to ensure that any heaters and cooking appliances that use electricity are also switched off and clear of any debris that could be a fire hazard, such as tea towels or kitchen paper.

Preparation is key

You might have taken steps to make your home more energy efficient, but have you thought about how your household would cope with no electricity?

You need to plan ahead by making sure you have alternative forms of heat and light, such as torches fitted with new batteries, candles and matches, battery-operated heaters or portable gas fires. However, be extra careful with open flames in the home; make sure you place them on a non-flammable surface away from curtains and soft furnishings, and never leave them unattended.

A power outage can make us realise how much we rely on energy in our day-to-day life. Are you on the right energy plan for your energy use? Use EnergyAustralia’s free and easy-to-use online energy calculator to find the right plan for your household.