Householders are being urged to cut out and keep a handy guide on staying safe and warm in the event of a winter power cut. The guide was pulled together by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, after many households were left without power during the recent big freeze.
Emma Bush, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says:”With this winter expected to be the coldest in 30 years and more snowfall predicted to be on the way, consumers should be as prepared as possible for any further power cuts.
“Energy companies will always try to get the supply back up and running again as quickly as possible, but in severe weather such as snow this can take time. If you are disabled, chronically ill, elderly or have young children in your home, let your supplier know as they may need to make you a priority.”
The uSwitch.com cut out and keep guide to surviving a winter power cut:
1.Be prepared – make sure you keep torches, spare batteries, candles and matches in an easy to get to cupboard or drawer and that all your family knows where they are. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned into a local station for information and have important numbers stored on a charged mobile phone.
2.Check – turn off all your electrical appliances and lights, but leave one light switched on so you know when the power is back on. Check whether neighbours have power or not. If it’s just your home affected, check your fuse box first before calling your supplier.
3.Stay warm – this is a priority. If a power cut leaves you without any heating move the whole family into one room, preferably south facing, and make sure you wear several layers of clothing, including a hat, scarf and coat if necessary. Use sleeping bags for extra warmth.
4.Stay safe – you can use other forms of heating such as paraffin stoves, but always read the instructions carefully and make sure the room is well ventilated. If you’re going to cook on a BBQ make sure you only do it outdoors. Never leave candles or heating appliances in unoccupied rooms.
5.Store water – if a power cut lasts for more than a few hours you will need to start storing water as the water supply may start to be affected. Fill saucepans, buckets, empty bottles or even the bath with water. If you are able to boil some water keep it in thermos flasks for warm drinks and fill hot water bottles to help stay warm.
6.Keep food fresh – if the freezer loses power do not open the door unless you have to, frozen food can last for around a day. The fridge is more of a problem, but if it is cold enough you can store food outside. Use a cardboard box with newspaper to stop it from freezing though.
7.Be a good neighbour – check on any elderly or vulnerable neighbours. If they’re struggling to keep warm invite them into your home – the more bodies, the more heat and the safer they should be.
8.Sub zero – if the temperature falls below freezing use towels and blankets to help insulate exposed water pipes. The last thing you need is a burst pipe.
9.After the power cut – check water pipes for leaks, reset electric timers and clocks and check the food in your freezer. If food has thawed do not refreeze as it could make anyone eating it ill.