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When the lights go out: a guide to power cuts

By Lindsey

One minute you’re happily watching TV, the next you’re sat in the dark, wondering what went wrong. Sounds like a power cut. They’re not great, but they’re not the end of the world. We’ve created a helpful guide to help you get through a power cut – who to call, what to do, that sort of thing.

Read on and find out what you should do the next time the lights go out unexpectedly.

Why has this happened?

Power cuts can happen for a few different reasons:

  • The weather. It’s the root of so many problems – soggy barbeques included – and power cuts are no different. Strong winds can damage power lines, rain can get to underground cables and lightning can strike important equipment.
  • Trees. We love them, but they can cause havoc if they grow near power lines. The lovely folk at the UK Power Network work hard to cut trees back, but damage can still be done. Especially in – see above – bad weather.
  • Other people. Construction workers can accidentally cause power cuts by damaging cables.

Are you a prepayment customer?

If you are, it’s worth checking your meter – it might have run out of credit. If the meter display shows an amount, followed by ‘DEBT’, you need to charge your key with the minimum amount at your local outlet.

If the lights go out, you should check your fuse box. If the trip switch is in the ‘off’ position or the fuses have blown – you’ve found what’s caused your problem.

If your trip switch keeps returning to the ‘off’ position, one of your appliances might be playing up. Try switching them all off, and turning them back on one by one.

If that doesn’t work, you should call an electrician – don’t try and fix it yourself. We don’t want any nasty accidents.

If your fuse box looks fine then it’s time to report a power cut. You’ll need to give your local network distributor a call.

We’ve got a handy list you can check to find out which distributor that is, and how to get hold of them.

Are your neighbours’ lights still on? Lucky them. Here’s why.

The electricity network is built in a way that means different houses – even if they’re on the same street – can get their power from different cables.

So if a cable is damaged, it won’t necessarily mean everyone is affected.

While it’s dark

Here are a few things to do during a power cut:

  • Keep your food cold. Avoid opening your fridge and freezer if you can. Food can last up to 15 hours if you keep the door shut
  • Your landline might not work. Keep a mobile handy and try not to use up the battery – you might need it
  • Leave one light switched on so you’ll know when your power comes back
  • Check up on any vulnerable neighbours to make sure they’re ok

Be prepared

As every Scout knows, it’s good to be prepared. The next time a power cut strikes, you’ll be ready.

  • Save the important contact details. Grab a post-it note, write the number of your network distributor on it and stick it near your fuse box.
  • Keep a torch and batteries handy, and save your phone battery in case you need to make a call.
  • Unplug sensitive appliances such as TVs and computers. When the power returns, turn them back on one at a time.

You can find all the info you need about power cuts on our website.

Source:: When the lights go out: a guide to power cuts

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