How to prepare your home for a power outage
Power outages in New Zealand tend to range in severity from “this is annoying, but at least we get to have a romantic candlelit dinner”, all the way through to “all the food in our freezer has spoiled and I haven’t had a hot shower in 72 hours.”
Here in New Zealand, we’re blessed with fairly resilient infrastructure, which means that most power cuts are resolved in a matter of hours. However, power outages in Auckland earlier this year demonstrated, this isn’t always the case. Freak storms and other severe weather conditions can cause major damage that may disrupt the supply of power for days.
How would your family cope without access to electricity?
The answer to this question, it all comes down to how prepared you are. Taking a proactive approach to emergency situations can do wonders for keeping your family safe, warm and comfortable in the event of a power cut. We’ve rounded up a few ideas to help you get prepared.
Food and water
- Plan your meals: If the power goes out for an extended period of time, there’s a chance that your food will start spoiling. Minimise this risk by first eating perishable foods such as bread, meat and fresh produce before moving onto packaged and canned goods.
- Refrigerator and freezer: Your fridge and freezer will maintain their temperature for quite a while after the power goes out - provided you leave the door closed. Preserve your cold foods by only opening your fridge/freezer door when absolutely necessary.
- Wine: Make the best of a bad situation by popping open a bottle of your favourite drop. Pair with a block of chocolate for best results.
- Water pumps: In rural areas, water pumps may not be functional when the power is off, so be sure to have sufficient emergency water supplies for drinking. The Civil Defence recommends storing at least three litres per person per day, not including the water required for washing and cooking.
- Cooking fuel: A power cut doesn’t mean you have to live on crackers and cold baked beans. Keep a gas bottle topped up with fuel for the BBQ to ensure you’ll always have a reliable method of cooking even when the power goes down.
- Matches: Store a few boxes of safety matches and use them to light candles, start the BBQ or light a fire.
- Candles: A great option for providing light, but they do increase the risk of fire. Given that emergency services are often already stretched thin during lengthy power cuts, try to stay away from candles if possible.
- Smartphone: Your smartphone can provide some light that should be sufficient for navigating the house or cooking dinner. A few different flashlight apps can be found on both Android and iOS, so download whichever one tickles your fancy.
- Torches: Your best bet for lighting up the darkness.
- Ideally, you should have one torch for each person in the house.
- You’ll find a bunch of options at your local hardware store, but try to avoid the cheapest products as their quality often leaves something to be desired.
- Dynamo torches may look appealing, but their internal batteries tend to lose their charge when left in storage for a long period of time, which may make it very difficult - if not impossible - to get them working again.
- Invest in torches that are powered by AA or AAA batteries, as these are easiest to find if you need replacements.
- Look for torches that let you change the brightness of the light. Not only does this help conserve your batteries, it also lets you to choose a level of brightness according to your needs (e.g. you might want a high level of illumination when inspecting your property for damage, but you probably don’t need max lumens when you’re visiting the bathroom).
- Battery-powered radio: This might be overkill for minor power cuts, but in the event of a long-lasting electricity outage, a battery-powered radio is the best way to keep up to date with the latest news. Remember to keep backup batteries on hand.
- Power bank: Keep your mobile devices juiced up by investing in a power bank. These nifty gizmos are essentially external batteries that can be used to charge your devices. A 10,000 mAh power bank typically costs around $50 and is able to charge most modern smartphones two or three times.
- Car charger: In case you don’t already have one, pick up a car charger for your phone. The Warehouse sells them for $8, and they’re great for keeping your devices charged while you’re on the move.
Health and safety
- Check on your neighbours: If it’s an unplanned power outage, be sure to take a moment to check on your neighbours. Older adults and young children are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures.
- Inspect your property: If it’s safe to do so, take a walk around your property and keep an eye out for fallen trees, damaged power lines and anything else that may pose a risk. NEVER touch any loose electricity wires.
- Wrap up warm: If you usually rely on electric heating to keep your home warm, make sure you have access to plenty of warm blankets and extra clothing.
- Talk to your doctor: Many people rely on medical devices that are powered by electricity. Ensure you have a plan in place for dealing with power cuts and don’t hesitate to call 111 if there’s an immediate threat to your health.
As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of power outages in New Zealand are fixed so quickly that they typically don’t have much impact on your day to day life. However, it’s always better to be over prepared and not need it than be underprepared and find yourself in the midst of a crisis.
If you’re looking for a new electricity supplier, contact Grey Power Electricity today and receive low cost electricity and transparent billing.