We are into the final month of 2023 and with it has come slightly alarming advice from Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden: stock up on essentials in the case of a major power outage.
The senior Tory cabinet minister stated that Brits become more “personally resilient” suggesting that we are too dependent on devices activated by the internet.
Dowden is launching a “resilience” academy to help businesses and people prepare for future pandemics, natural disasters and cyber-attacks. He claimed that this academy will help the “whole of society” prepare for major risks.
How to prepare for a major power cut
According to the National Grid, all the things you need for a power cut should be kept together and accessible to everybody in the household. For a power cut, you will need:
- Keep torches and batteries handy. While it may be second nature to use the torch on your phone, this drains down essential battery. Don’t use candles or naked flames for light as these pose a fire hazard
- Make sure that your mobile phone and any other essential equipment is charged. If you can, try to keep some data available in case Wi-Fi goes down and keep a charged power bank available to charge your phone, tablet or other devices. Charge all medical equipment that you rely on and if possible, consider keeping a battery back-up for them.
- Protect the food in your fridge and freezer. The Food Standards agency states that your fridge will keep food safe for up to four hours during a power outage as long as you keep the doors closed as much as possible. Additionally, a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for around 48 hours and 24 hours for a half-full freezer, as long as the door is closed.
- Have some ready-to-eat food available. During a power cut, you’re unlikely to be able to use kitchen appliances so ensure that you have access to food and drinks that don’t require electricity or heat preparation
- Switch off electrical appliances. Switch off all appliances such as cookers, grills, chip pans, hair straighteners and electrical fires so that they don’t come on immediately when power returns. The National Grid adds that unplugging your PC and TV is a good idea, too, as it prevents a surge.
- Leave a light on. This ensures that you’ll know when the electricity comes back. Even if the outage happens in the daytime, this is a failsafe in case it continues into the evening.
- Boil water and keep it in a thermos flask. This can then be used for hot drinks or to fill a hot water bottle.
- Stay warm and protected. Keep blankets and thick clothes ready to keep yourself and everybody in your household warm. The National Grid also recommends reducing heat loss by closing doors on unused rooms and closing curtains. Keep a first aid kit handy, too.
- Save your work. If you work from home, regularly save your work to ensure you don’t lose anything.
- Fill your car with petrol. Often, service stations can’t pump petrol before a cut so keeping your car filled to at least half full is a good idea, as is knowing how to manually open your garage door so that you can get the car out if needed.
- Make sure essential medical equipment has a battery back-up. If you have a stair lift, bath hoist, or adjustable bed, make sure you have a battery backup so that you can keep using it in the case of a power cut.
Finally, if you need extra support, you are entitled to priority services. This means that welfare teams will keep you updated, provide you with an emergency number you can call and provide tailored support such as hot meals and even home visits.
Energy suppliers and network operators will keep a Priority Services Register. If you think you should be added, you need to contact your energy supplier or network operator.
Ofgem has advice on joining the registry for anybody that needs it.