If the power goes off unexpectedly, you may find yourself caught short on a few essentials – communications, keeping warm, and keeping fed.
If you don’t have a wood fire, we recommend having a gas heater that uses a BBQ bottle for heating when the power is out. Just be sure to keep your home ventilated, and turn the gas off when you go to bed at night. Extra clothing and blankets are also a good way to keep warm.
A BBQ is a simple way to prepare hot meals. Eat your fresh food first, then frozen, and finally your pantry foods. Keep the doors closed on your refrigerator and freezer to keep the cold in as long as possible. Civil Defence recommends keeping a range of tinned foods handy, in case power is off for extended periods.
If you have a gas hob, this will still work but you will need matches to ignite it.
In a Civil Defence emergency, radio stations are the best source of information, which is why it is important to have a battery-operated radio in your home, with spare batteries. If you don’t have one, you can listen to your car radio, but be aware that extending use may drain the battery.
Keeping in touch
If the power goes out, it’s worth checking with your neighbour to see if they have power. It’s also a good way to make sure they are OK, because in a major disaster, they may need your help.
Modern land lines will usually not work during a power cut. An ‘old fashioned’ line-powered corded phone (using a copper line) will still work, so keeping one for emergencies is a good plan. However, if you’re solely on fibre for your phone and internet, these phones won’t work.
Spare battery packs for mobiles will allow you to top up your phone battery, or you could charge it using the cigarette lighter in your car. Just make sure you have the right connector.
If all your contacts are stored electronically, you may wish to keep a print out of essential contact numbers somewhere safe.
A torch with spare batteries is an essential emergency kit item in any home. Other options may include gas-powered camping lanterns, or alternatively, a good old fashioned candle. But please be careful – candles and gas lights are a fire risk in your home, so keep them well clear of drapes and other soft furnishings or clothing. Place them in a secure location, clear of the reach of children. Be sure to extinguish candles fully before going to bed, and make sure any gas sources are turned off completely at the source.
Medical equipment / chilled medications
If you are depending on medical equipment powered by electricity, make sure you let your retailer know.
If you have medication that must be kept cool, you may want to invest in a small back-up generator which could power your fridge (or other electrical devices) for up to four hours. Alternatively, you could place it in a chiller bag and transfer it an unaffected friend or family member’s fridge.
If there is a major event that takes out power in the city, eftpos terminals and ATM’s will not work. You may want to have an ‘emergency cash fund’ stored somewhere secure for situations such as these. Or when you desperately need chocolate and you can’t find your wallet (just be sure to top it up again).