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What to do in a power outage

Melbourne has recently experienced a severe storm, with a great number of homes losing power. So, this seems like the perfect time to run through what to do in the event of a power outage.

Storms often cause power outages by knocking down trees onto power lines or when power infrastructure gets struck by lightning. But they’re not the only troublemakers; floods, heatwaves, and bushfires can also leave us in the dark. Even small incidents like animals or construction near underground power lines can cause disruptions.

So, do you have a plan for when the lights go out? Preparedness is key. Arm yourself with essentials: a trusty torch, a fully charged mobile phone (or mobile charging pack), and a battery-operated radio to stay connected with the outside world.

Energy Safe Victoria recommend turning off and unplugging all electrical appliances at the power point to avoid any potential damage from power surges.

Here are some golden rules to help you during a blackout:

  • Alert the Authorities: Reach out to your electricity supply company to report the outage or check their online platforms for updates. If the storm is wide-spread you may not be able to speak with anyone so we recommend some patience.
  • Equip Yourself: Have an energy survival kit ready next to the first aid kit, complete with essential contacts, a charged mobile phone, alternative lighting, cooking facilities, and a battery-powered radio for weather updates. Oh, and maybe add a card game or board game…
  • Neighborhood Check: Be a good neighbor; check on others and offer support, particularly those you know to be vulnerable.
  • Food Preservation: Keep cool under pressure by moving perishables to the freezer, minimizing fridge openings, and consuming hot food within four hours.

Switching back on after power is restored

Energy Safe Victoria recommend a cautious approach to ‘turning on’ once power is re-connected. They have published the following instructions…

Check that there is no damage to any electrical cables, wiring or other electrical equipment. If you identify any damaged electrical equipment or cables:

  • do not turn on the power
  • do not touch the equipment or cable
  • call a licensed electrician to test and make it safe.

Unplug or turn off all electrical appliances and equipment before switching the power back on.

This includes circuit breakers, RCDs (Residual Current Devices or simply known as ‘safety switches’) or other switches on your switchboard.

  • Turn on the main power switch.
  • Turn on each circuit breaker one at a time.
  • If you have an RCD, press and hold the test button for 5 seconds. This will turn the power off. The RCD must operate immediately on pressing the test button.
  • Reset the RCD and press the test button a second time. If the RCD operates correctly and turns off the power, reset it and you can begin switching on electrical equipment
  • If the RCD fails the testing, it should be turned off and immediately you will need a licensed electrician to replace.

Remember, a little preparation goes a long way. Stay safe, stay connected, and you will weather any storm.

For further useful information see the Energy Safe Victoria website

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