Electricity outages - be prepared!
While electricity networks around New Zealand have become increasingly resilient, wild weather or natural disasters can damage poles, wires, and other electrical equipment that can cut electricity supply for hours, if not days or weeks.
When the power is off, we soon become aware of how many of our day-to-day activities rely on electricity.
We know electricity outages are disruptive, and we aim to restore your power as quickly as possible.
Please bear in mind that restricted access, treacherous working conditions, and safety concerns for our team, could delay efforts.
You can also report an outage by contacting us on 0800 2 UNISON.
Frequently Asked Questions
My power just went out, how do I let Unison know?
If it's a major outage, it's likely we are already know about it and have dispatched a fault crew to fix the fault.
For individual and smaller outages, we rely on you to check the outages page on our website in the first instance. If you can't see any relevant information, please submit the online form, or call us on 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476).
I am medically dependant on electricity, what do I do in an outage?
Please ensure you have registered yourself as medically dependant with your electricity retailer - their contact number can be found on your power bill.
In the event of a power outage, activate your back-up plan, or if you have no alternative support plans in place, call us on 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476). If you are feeling unwell, please call 111 immediately.
If you have medication that must be kept cool, consider investing in a back-up generator which could power your fridge for up to four hours. Or place it in a chiller bag and transfer it to an unaffected family member/friend's fridge.
I work from home, how do I keep my business running?
If you want to ensure your essential household applicances continue to run, consider investing in a petrol or diesel generator. These can cost around $300 for a 900w two-stroke petrol generator, which will provide electricity for up to four hours. If you are using a generator, ensure you have plenty of fuel ready to use.
How do I keep my family warm and fed?
Keep the gas bottle on your BBQ full to ensure you have a cooking source in a power outage. Remember to keep spare food for your pets in your emergency kit.
Consider getting a portable gas heater with a full gas bottle as a back-up heat source. Make sure you have plenty of warm blankets, extra clothing, and conserve heat in your home by closing doors, windows and curtains, and using towels to block any drafts.
What are my options for lighting?
An all-weather torch with plenty of spare batteries is the best option. Consider candles, but be aware they can increase the risk of fire.
How will I keep in touch with important news updates?
We recommend purchasing a power bank for your mobile phone/devices, or use your car's 12V socket /USB port as a charger. A battery-operated radio will also keep you informed in the early stages of a crisis.
Depending on the crisis, radio, phone and cell infrastructrue can be affected, meaning you may not be able to use your phone to call, text or check social media until these services are restored. This makes it all the more important to have an emergency plan and kit at hand.
How do I keep my cold/frozen food fresh?
There are a few things to remember before, during and after an outage to keep your food safe:
Prepare chilly bins with ice bricks or chill packs to keep food cold if the power goes out.
Have a supply of bottled water and long-life items such as milk and canned goods. Also keep a supply of detergent, bleach and alcohol-based hand santiser.
Remember to keep a supply of food for infants and pets.
Keep the fridge door closed as much as possible. A fridge should keep food cool for around four hours.
Keep the freezer door closed as much as possible. A freezer shouldn't defrost for around 24-48 hours.
If frozen food has thawed, don't re-freeze.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser to wash hands if drinking water is limited.
Throw out food that has an unusual smell, colour or texture. In the event of a prolonged outage - or if in doubt - throw it out.
Contact your insurance provider for any damaged household items/appliances.
I have an automatic garage door which means my car is stuck in the garage
If you know there is going to be a planned power outage, consider parking your car outside before the power goes off. For unplanned outages, there should be a manual override that lets you open the door from the inside.
What should I do in the event of a crisis?
'Get Ready to Get Thru' - Civil Defence have a range of detailed information on how you can get ready to cope in a crisis. We recommend checking out the Civil Defence links below for advice on how to get through:
Unison uses all available channels to update you
As soon as we become aware of a major network outage, we will supply regular updates to media (including radio, print and web), Civil Defence, emergency services, and local government.
We provide major updates via our website and use Facebook to get updates out regularly. Depending on the situation, these channels may or may not be available to everyone, but please trust that we know the importance of regular, accurate updates to keep you informed during all power outages.
During power outages, Unison regularly advises the following safety precautions:
Check for fallen or damaged electricity lines
Never touch wires or lines lying on the ground, over fences, hanging from poles, or objects such as tree branches that may be touching them. Fallen lines or wires may still be carrying an electrical current and could shock, injure or even kill if touched.
If you suspect any low power or a damaged supply to your home, turn off the power at the main switch
If the power goes out, turn off electrical appliances, but leave one light on to indicate when the electricity supply is restored.