What to do during a power outage?
Our number one focus during a power outage is the safety of our Sumo energy customers, so we’ve put together a short guide to plan for and respond to loss of power in your home or neighborhood. While our inquisitive minds often want to find out the reason the power has gone out, there are a few safety precautions to take before doing too much exploration and discovery. Once you’ve got these taken care of, you can move on to the next steps to correct the situation.
If there is any emergency or extreme risk as a result of a power outage, don’t hesitate to call 000 to access emergency services immediately. Even if no one has been hurt in events that caused a power outage, there may be medications that require refrigeration, or medical equipment that runs off of electricity.
If you are experiencing power loss as a result of structural issues with your local poles or wires, your local distributor, rather than energy provider, will be the appropriate point of contact. If you’re not sure who to call, you can check the distributor list here.
General safety precautions:
If you’re not in an emergency situation, there are still some measures to take to protect you, your belongings, and your loved ones. As power outages can result in both power surges and malfunctioning appliances, it’s important to unplug everything at the wall so no expensive technology is damaged. You might even consider moving flammable items about from cooking appliances in order to prevent potential fire hazards, even if they are unlikely.
Food safety is important if power is out for more than a few hours. If possible, move perishables to the freezer section and only open it when absolutely necessary. Freezers should keep food at a safe temperature for 24 to 48 hours, while unplugged fridges only have roughly 4 hours of retained temperature in mild weather. If you plan to use a generator or camp stove to cook food, be sure these are only used outside away from the home.
If you are facing extreme cold or hot weather, you may need to move you and your family and pets to another location if it is safe to do so.
If you have neighbours that are less mobile due to age or disability, it’s important to check on them to see if they require assistance. You might consider checking on neighbours, regardless of disability, as a kind act of community as someone might be scared or unsure of what they should do in the situation.
NBN connected equipment won’t operate during a power outage. Different types of NBN connects are affected differently by power loss, so it’s important to determine which type of connection you have at home or in the office. Check the various ways NBN is affected here. It’s good to have charged mobile phones at the ready and a list of important contacts so you can retain communication and receive updates about power restoration.
Determining the cause of the power outage:
If you have no urgent situations to attend to, you may want to investigate why you have lost power in the first place. When checking on your neighbors, see if their homes have lost power as well. If they are unaffected, your first point of call is to check your meter box. If the safety switch has flipped then the power may have simply tripped in order to spare a fuse blowing. In this case, you will probably be able to restore normal power by switching it back on and perhaps unplugging a few appliances if you have several running at the same time. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this then you can call an electrician for support.
If your safety switch has not flipped, there may be a power outage in your area. Call your distributor and they will be able to tell you where power is out and their estimate for when it will be restored.
Power outages in a street or neighborhood can occur for numerous reasons including fallen trees or branches, road or ground work, animal interference, or inclement weather. Make sure you never approach fallen or damaged power lines as there is high risk for electrocution or fire.
After a power outage:
When power is restored, it may be tempting to go back to your daily business as usual. In most cases, you should be safe to plug everything back in and get on with your life. When it comes to refrigerated food and medication however, it’s important to be on the cautious side. If refrigerated medications were not kept cool for an entire day, it may be safer to throw them out or contact the manufacturer. To stay on the safe side, get rid of thawing or perishable food and start fresh as bacteria grows rapidly in unrefrigerated food.
How to plan for future loss of power:
Now that you’ve taken care of any current power loss situations, it’s time to plan for future instances so you aren’t left in a dangerous situation, or even just left in the dark. Here are some easy things you can prepare now to plan ahead:
- Torches with fresh batteries, candles, matches, and lighters.
- Charged computer and mobile phone batteries so you can contact emergency services and check on loved ones or simply to keep yourself entertained while waiting for power to come back on!
- Battery powered radio for weather updates (and maybe some uplifting music)
- Non-perishable food items like dried and canned foods.
- Fresh water in case you access electrically powered water, such as through a pump.
- A non-digital list of important contacts.
- Alternative cooking appliances such as a camp stove that you can use outdoors if weather permits.
- Subscribe to local alert systems or download emergency apps.
- Arrange alternative refrigeration for medications or power for medical appliances.
Power outages can be alarming, but with proper preparation, they are likely to be no more of an inconvenience than a night out camping! If you’re still unsure about what you should do in a particular situation, check out the government power outage website and fact sheet and set up your power outage kit ahead of time. Contact us if you have further questions!