Prepare for a power cut
A power cut might be caused by:
damage to the equipment that supplies electricity - for example, in a storm
your electricity company doing work on their equipment - they'll usually warn you about this before they do it
Power cuts can be unexpected and worrying, but there are things you can do to prepare for any loss of electricity.
Check you’ll be able to keep warm
Most gas boilers need electricity to start, so you may not have any heating during a power cut. If you’re not sure if your boiler would work without electricity, you could could contact the manufacturer or check with a gas safe engineer. You can search for a gas safe engineer on the Gas Safe Register website.
If you use a heat pump or electric storage heaters, these won’t work in a power cut.
To prepare for having no heating during a power cut you could:
find and clean all your blankets - this includes blankets for babies and young children
prepare extra layers to wear, for example, thermals and hat and gloves
have your chimney cleaned if you have a wood burning stove or open fire
plan if you would stay in your own home or if it would be safer or warmer to stay with a friend or family member
Check if your local council has any ‘warm spaces’. These are public places that anyone can use to stay warm - for example a community space like a library.
Check devices and equipment
It’s important to know what will and won’t work without electricity - you might need to charge backup batteries or check if you can use something else instead.
If you have medical equipment that uses electricity
Check the battery of any medical or accessibility equipment - for example, a stairlift.
Some equipment has a backup battery - check if yours has one and how long it’ll last. You can check this by reading the instructions or contacting the manufacturer.
If you keep medication in the fridge
You could consider having a mini-fridge which is only used for medication. The longer you keep a fridge or freezer door closed during a power cut, the longer it will stay cold.
You could store some of your medication at a family or friend’s house if they live close by and you could get to it during a power cut.
If you’re unsure how your medication will be affected by any change in fridge temperature, check the information leaflet that comes with your medication or speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you have a personal alarm linked to your phone
Keep phones charged
It’s important to be able to still contact friends and family during a power cut. This is especially important if you live alone, are disabled or have a health condition.
charge all devices such as mobile phones and tablets, including any battery power banks you may have
write important phone numbers down and keep them somewhere safe
If you don’t have a mobile phone, talk with friends and family about what should happen during a power cut. It’s good to have a neighbour or someone close by who can come and check on you.
If you have an analogue phone which plugs into your phone line, this will still work during a power cut.
Check torch batteries
It’s important you can see and move safely around your home during a power cut. If you have a torch, regularly check that it works and you have spare batteries. Keep batteries and torches together in a safe place which is easy for you to get to, especially in the dark.
If you don’t have a torch or a battery powered light, you should consider buying one in case you lose electricity and your lights won’t work.
Avoid using candles as lights - these can cause fires if left alone.
Check you’ll be able to prepare food safely
If you have an electric oven and hob, this probably won’t work during a power cut. You could use a camping stove or portable gas stove to boil water or cook food on - you should use these outdoors.
If you have a gas oven it probably won’t work without electricity - this is a safety feature on most modern gas ovens. You can use a gas hob but the spark to light the gas might not work without electricity. Use long safety matches or a gas lighter to light your hob safely.
If you’re not able to boil water to make baby formula, you should use pre-mixed formula.
Have food in your cupboard which you can easily eat if you’re left without power, ideally with a long use-by date, for example, tinned fish.
A full freezer can stay frozen for 48 hours, but if it’s only half full it will only last 24 hours. To prepare for a power cut you could fill plastic bottles with water and add them to gaps in your freezer to help keep it colder for longer.
If you have a pet
Some pets can get upset during a power cut. Think about keeping them with you in the same room and adding extra blankets so they can stay warm.
Think about how any loss of electricity could affect them. If they have specialist habitat or tanks you might want to check if you have a backup. For example, if you have a tropical fish tank you can buy battery powered filters which can be used for short times during power cuts.
If you’re unsure what’s available for your pet, search online or speak with your local pet shop or vet.
If your pet needs warm water to prepare their food or cool boiled water as part of their diet, you should check with your local pet shop for alternatives in case you’re unable to heat water.
Check if you can get extra help from your supplier
You might be able to sign up to the Priority Services Register, this can give you extra support during a power cut - you could get regular updates and a special number to ring if you need extra support.
Know how to report a power cut
The sooner a power cut is reported, the sooner your distribution network operator (DNO) can try and fix the problem.
Your DNO is responsible for managing the electricity cables in your area. This is not your electricity supplier, who sends you your bill. You should report any power cut to your DNO.
Check who your DNO if by searching your postcode on the Power Cut 105 website. You can also report power cuts on the Power Cut 105 website.
Know when you can claim compensation
You might be able to claim some money from your network operator after a power cut. It depends on the reason for the power cut and how long you lost power for.
If you’re worried about losing money during a power cut you can check what compensation you could get after a power cut.
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Page last reviewed on 14 November 2023