Extended power outages can impact the whole community and the economy. A power outage is when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. This can:
- Disrupt communications, water, and transportation;
- Cause food spoilage and water contamination;
- Prevent use of medical devices;
- Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.
There are steps you can take to be prepared for a power outage, and minimise the impact during a power outage.
Sign up for local alerts and warning systems so you can be prepared if power outages are likely.
You can also:
- Keep enough non-perishable food and water for a few days;
- Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full;
- Have torches with extra batteries for every household member;
- Plan for other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out (e.g. gas stoves, candles);
- Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines;
- Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
Stay safe during a power outage
If your power goes out, you should:
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed and use coolers with ice if necessary. Your refrigerator will only keep food cold for about four hours and a full freezer can keep the temperature for up to 48 hours;
- Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher;
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics as your power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” which can cause damage;
- To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, only use generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills outdoors and at least 6 metres away from windows.Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
Be careful after a power outage
When your power comes back on:
- You may need to take photos of the contents of your fridge or freezer for any insurance claims – check with your insurer before you start cleaning out your fridge and freezer;
- When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odour, colour, or texture;
- If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.
Visit the Western Power website for more power outage information