The Ultimate Blackout/Power Outage Guide
What is a blackout?
A blackout is a term used to refer to the period when an entire city or region is disconnected from electricity (due to natural disasters or man-made accidents) and thus when you look into the city, it’s all black because there is no light, only a “blackout”.
What is a power outage?
A power outage or an unplanned outage is the term used to describe a household or small region whose electricity is suddenly interrupted (due to natural disasters or man-made accidents).
The two terms are closely related and only differ on a size basis; blackout occurs on a larger scale than a power outage.
What causes a blackout or power outage?
In Australia, there are five main reasons for a blackout or power outage. These are:
- Weather - Australia’s electricity can be affected by ferocious winds or debris getting caught to the power lines and causing damage or shorting out. Australia also often counters flooding and a heavy storm which can interrupt the electrical lines from reaching your home.
- Accidents - Power poles can often be affected by motor vehicle accidents. Since they are located near the roads, they are exposed to being directly taken down by an oversized vehicle.
- Bushfires - Bushfires in Australia are a common occurrence during the Summer. It is not to say that it only happens in Summer, bushfires can affect the electrical infrastructure if it comes into contact.
- Animals - Power lines and transmission towers are designed to be out of reach for people to reach. However, wild Australian animals such as birds, snakes and koalas can easily reach fuseboxes and transformers.
- Spikes - A sudden voltage increase can easily be the reason for a power outage. This is often caused by lightning strikes.
What to do during a blackout or power outage?
So, what do you do when the power goes out? After all, this is probably why you’re reading and looking at this page. Blackouts may be temporary and with a bit of careful planning, it can become handy to protect your home and family during difficult situations.
In the event of a heavy storm or strong winds, there are many things you should do as a safety procedure. Fear not, our experts have compiled a contingency plan of things you should do when a blackout or power outage occurs. Here’s what you’ll need to do before and during a blackout or power outage:
BEFORE A BLACKOUT
Creating an emergency plan for your family
Some blackouts are often well planned in advance, but the others are typically the result of an unforeseen natural disaster such as tornado or flood. Before the power is disconnected, it’s a good idea to sit down with your family and discuss what each person should do in these cases.
Assign specific responsibilities and duties to each individual, such as closing the windows, gathering flashlights or lighting the candles. Also, make sure to write down what each family member will do in case of an outage.
Have an emergency supply of things for a blackout
Ensure that you stock up on food and essential supplies in the event of an unforeseen or unplanned power outage. Some of the important items that you will need during a blackout or power outage regardless of whether it is a short-term or long-term interruption are:
- Flashlight & fresh batteries
- Battery or hand-powered radio
- Non-perishable food (such as canned food and dried food such as whole-wheat crackers)
Have a planned escape route
It is vital to have a planned escape route in and out of your home. If you do not have one in place, the scenario can become life-threatening. It can be very possible to have electronically controlled entrances and garage door. Learn how to manually open them without the need of electricity in case you need to quickly escape during a power outage. Most electric garage doors will have a release cord that you can manually pull to open it without the need for electricity.
Charging your phone
To prepare for a blackout, make sure to keep your phone or mobile devices fully charged. Try to keep a full battery by lowering the brightness of the screen and turning off any unused applications. Also, it is a good idea to shift your device into airplane mode as it will consume less energy. When your mobile phone is being charged, keep it call short to conserve its battery further.
Investing in a portable mobile charger is something worth considering since our mobiles and internet have become a major part of our lives. For most of us, we use our mobile phones on a daily basis.
DURING A BLACKOUT
Checking the flipped breaker
When the power in your house is out, the first thing you need to do is checking the electrical panel if it is still in order. If the switch is flipped off, just flip it back and check for the power. If the power doesn’t come back on and the panel still looks fine, then have a look at your neighbours. It is simple to know whether if the outage is only affecting your home. Is their exterior light on? Are their rooms lit up from lamps, computers or TVs?
If it is just your house, then it is advisable to call an electrician for immediate repairs. If it is a broader area, then you can check the Endeavour Energy website for any notice about a power outage.
Disconnecting surge-prone devices
During a power failure due to a storm or heavy rain, make sure to go through your home and turn off all electronic devices which would suffer from the power surge. Even with a surge protector, your TVs, laptops and other appliances can be affected.
Keeping your fridge and freezer doors shut
Avoid being hungry in the dark by fully stocking your refrigerator in advance. In general, a fridge can keep its contents cool for up to four hours, while a freezer would maintain foods safe for up to two days if fully stocked or one day if it is half-full. A great way to keep the temperature down and maintain foods longer is to fill up your freezer with ice. Either store plastic water containers or buy ice bag until they get frozen.
AFTER A BLACKOUT
Don’t overload your restored power with electronic devices
Avoid plugging all your electronic devices back into the power sockets at once. This is because of two reasons. One, it protects your devices from any power-surge that can still occur due to the power being newly restored. And two, there is a lower chance of an electrical failure in your home again due to the sudden stress and overload of electronics and appliances in your home.
Replenish your emergency supplies
After a blackout or power outage, chances are you would’ve exhausted your essential supplies and therefore will need to top it back up for another emergency event. There might even be a chance for some improvement that you found were missing at the time.
Get an emergency electrician to your home within 60 minutes!
If it seems like your house is the only home in the neighbourhood that is affected by the blackout then you need to call the professional electricians from Gordon Powers. We specialise in 24-hour emergency electrical needs and have a team of level 2 electricians ready to attend your home at any time.