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What to do in a power cut?

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Power cuts can be a little on the scary side, particularly in bad, stormy weather, when they are most common. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a guide on what to do in a power cut, to help you identify and deal with any challenges you may face. We’ll also discuss how you can prepare for a power outage, so you aren’t left completely in the dark, next time the lights go out.

First, let’s start with how you can tell if it’s a power cut you’re experiencing or something wrong with the electrics in your home.

What to do when there’s no electricity

Have the lights gone out? Appliances stopped working? Your first thought is bound to be ‘power cut’ but this won’t necessarily be the case. Check outside to see if there are any street lights on or other houses with lights on. If you can see lights elsewhere, it suggests the problem is located in your house, rather than being a real power cut.

Have you run out of credit?

If you use a prepayment metre, make sure you haven’t run out of credit. It sounds obvious but you’ll be surprised by how many people panic, before realising that actually, they just need to top their metre up! Check your metre display and if it shows the word ‘debt’ it means you’ve run out of credit and need to top up your card.

Have you tripped a switch?

The problem could be as simple as a tripped switch in your fuse box. We recommend checking this first, to see if the problem is an easy fix. If you’re not sure where your fuse box is located, it’s likely to be in your utility room or basement. You may need to use a battery-powered torch to help you find it if the lights are out.

Lift the cover and see if any of the switches have tripped. You’ll know because they’ll have moved to the down position. If any switches have tripped, you’ll need to reset them.

How to reset fuse box UK

Resetting your fuse box is relatively straightforward. Simply move any switches that have tripped and are pointing downwards into the upward position. This should turn your electricity supply back on.

If the switches trip again immediately or you experience frequent power cuts, you likely have a faulty device or problem with your wiring. To spot a faulty device, we recommend plugging each appliance in one-by-one to work out what’s causing the problem. You will need to get a qualified electrician to troubleshoot the appliance and repair it for you. The same goes for any wiring problems. It’s not likely to be something you can safely fix yourself, so always seek help from an expert.

Hometree’s home cover package includes repairs to your home’s main electrical wiring system, eliminating the cost and inconvenience of emergency call-outs. Get in touch on 0800 368 9881 to find out more.

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Power cut no fuses tripped

If you haven’t tripped a fuse and there doesn’t appear to be any streetlights on, you're likely experiencing a power cut. Our first tip is to stay calm. Remember, these things don’t usually last very long. We’d also suggest doing the following:

  • Switching off all appliances that shouldn’t be left unattended for when your power comes back on
  • Leaving a light turned on at the wall so you know when you’ve got power again
  • Checking to see if any vulnerable neighbours are okay
  • Wrapping up to keep warm, especially in the winter when your home would usually be heated
  • Reporting the power cut to your network operator

How to report a power cut

Wondering who to phone in a power cut? Most people would assume it’s their electricity company but they’re only responsible for selling you electricity, not maintaining the power lines.

Instead, you will need to find the power outage phone number for the network distributor in your area. You can find this by searching your postcode on the Energy Networks website. Alternatively, you can call the power outage phone number ‘105’ from your mobile or landline and it will automatically connect you to your network distributor’s emergency number.

When is power back on?

Once you’re in touch with your network distributor, they will be able to provide more information about the power cut and give you an idea when your electricity will be back on. It may also be worth keeping an eye on the National Grid website and their social media pages for updates.

Reporting emergencies in a power cut

If you see any damaged or sparking power lines, it’s important to report the problem to your network distributor. Again, you can do this by dialling ‘105’ from your mobile or landline and it will connect you automatically. You should also report damaged electricity manholes and other electrical equipment that is not secure or waterproof, as this could be very dangerous.

Do not approach any electricity cables or power lines that are on or near the ground. Although damaged, they could still be live and may potentially electrocute you. If they have fallen in a heavily trafficked area such as a road or footpath, dial 999 to report the emergency to the police. Make sure passers-by stay clear of the hazard until the police arrive and take over.

Preparing for a power cut

The best way to avoid the panic of what to do in a power cut is to make sure you’re prepared. We suggest making a power cut survival kit. Here are a few items it could include:

  • Battery-operated torch (much safer than lighting candles)
  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio (useful for getting local updates)
  • Portable power pack for your mobile (make sure it’s always fully charged)
  • Blankets and thermals for keeping warm
  • Food and drink that can be prepared without electricity

We’d also recommend using a power cut bulb in your home. These bulbs have lithium batteries that charge on your electricity supply and will remain illuminated for several hours in the event of a power cut.

What to do in a power cut checklist

Here’s a handy checklist you can refer to so you know what to do when there’s no electricity:

  • Locate your torch (and power cut survival kit if you have one)
  • Check it’s a power cut and not a tripped fuse
  • Unplug appliances but leave a single light switch on
  • Phone ‘105’ to report the power cut to your network distributor
  • Check on vulnerable neighbours
  • Stay calm and keep warm
  • Dial 999 to report any electrical hazards outside to the police

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