How to prepare for a possible blackout

With strong wind and heavy rain forecast over the festive period, there is a possibility of blackouts in many parts of the UK.

This is normally caused by falling tree branches and other debris carried by the wind damaging overhead power cables.

Preparing for a possible blackout

  • Keep the number of your local network operator handy (see below)
  • Keep torches, a radio and spare batteries at hand
  • Keep an old-fashioned corded phone which you can plug in, as cordless phones won’t work
  • Keep important documents safe and handy

If electricity is crucial for any medical or mobility equipment you have, your power network operator can put you on a priority list for assistance during a power cut.

Never leave a naked flame unattended
Never leave a naked flame unattended Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/Press Association Image

Who to contact in a blackout

If there is a power outage in your area, report it to your local power distribution company. Many employ extra staff in their call centres at periods of high risk.

Many will also have further advice on their websites.

You should only call 999 if someone is in immediate danger or in need of urgent medical care, or if a crime is taking place or about to happen.

Electricity distribution operators in the UK
Electricity distribution operators in the UK Credit: Energy Networks Association

What to do in a blackout

  • Listen to local radio for information
  • Dress warmly in several layers of clothing, stay in one room or even get into bed
  • Take great care if using candles, tea-lights and other naked flames
  • Minimises opening of fridge and freezer doors. Food can survive for up to 15 hours in a freezer if the door is not opened.
  • Switch off all non-essential electrical equipment
  • Leave one light on to let you know when the power comes back on
  • After the power cut be sure to check your circuit breaker

Elderly or ill neighbours may be at particular risk in a blackout so consider checking on them or taking them a flask of hot water or hot food.