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What to do in a power outage

Power outages can be caused by severe weather, such as lightening, floods, heatwaves, bushfires or high winds, or by trees contacting powerlines. Animals, car accidents or digging near underground powerlines can also cause interruptions.

Restoring power is usually the responsibility of your local electricity distribution company, who own and maintain the poles and wires bringing power to your home.

Fallen powerlines

Storms are the most common cause of power outages as strong winds often cause trees to fall across powerlines, interrupting supply.

Stay more than 8 – 10 metres away. Just standing near fallen powerlines can be fatal.

Always treat fallen powerlines as live even when they are broken.

Preparing for power outages

Power outages can occur at any time. To prepare, you should have an energy plan and kit, which include the following:

  • Important contacts – keep a list of your important numbers somewhere easy to find
  • Access to a charged mobile phone
  • Alternative lighting – torches, LED lanterns etc
  • Alternative cooking facilities and heating – some gas appliances may need electricity to operate. Never bring outdoor gas appliance such as BBQs or patio heaters indoors
  • A battery-powered radio – get updates on weather conditions and power outages in your area
  • Fresh water – if you use electricity to run a water pump, make sure you have an alternative water source.

Do you have special needs?

If you require an uninterrupted power supply, report your needs to your electricity retailer and make sure they have up-to-date contact details for you.

During a power outage

In the event of a power failure

  • Turn off and unplug all electrical appliances at the powerpoints – to help prevent equipment damage in the event of a power surge
  • Turn off light switches – they may turn on when you are not there
  • Check your neighbour’s to see if they have also lost power. If not, go to your meter box and check that your safety switch has not tripped
  • Check on and offer support to your neighbours and relatives, particularly those with special needs and the elderly

Never

  • Use a generator inside or try to modify extension leads to connect power to household wiring.
  • Do you own electrical work – DIY electrical work is illegal and very dangerous. Read more on our DIY=DIE campaign page.

Be safe with food

  • Try to keep food cold – move food from the fridge to the freezer and only open the fridge / freezer when absolutely necessary
  • East hot food within four hours or throw it away.

Read more on food safety during power outages.

Contact your electricity distributor

Let them know your power is out, or check their website/app for outage details.

Want to know more?

Click here to read our Guide to power outages brochure.