24HEED BLOG – What to do in a blackout
What to do first.
Is there lightning close to your premises? If there is lightning striking close to you then it’s a good idea to take some precautionary measures. First, you need to physically unplug all devices and appliances from the socket. Once this is done time to put your feet up, literally. If your house is struck by lightning you can protect yourself from ground dispersing current spike by adding extra insulation between you and the floor, one thing you can do is sit down on your sofa couch or lounge and put your feet up on it. This way any potential difference between your feet has been eliminated. If your house is higher elevation or is built on such as ground with rich iron in the soil you may receive more lightning strikes than is otherwise probable. In order to protect your house in this case read the following article dealing with lightning protection.
Who to call for help?
Now it’s time to identify whether this blackout is local or widespread. Your best bet is to wait for the storm to calm down, then, when it is safe to do so just walk down the street and check whether your neighbours’ lights are on or off. If the blackout is area wide then you do not need to do anything, the local electricity provider will be aware of the outage and will dispatch emergency crews to fix the problem. In Darwin you don’t have an electricity distributor like the rest of the country so you will most likely have to contact your electricity retailer. However if the blackout is localised to just you then you may need to call an electrician. If you’re not sure or you cant get through to the electricity retailer and would like to speak to someone immediately you can call us here at 24 Hour Emergency Electrician Darwin on 0428 158 086 and we will advise you on your situation. For property damage and immediate physical assistance call the State Emergency Service. In all states the SES number is 13 25 00.
The rollout of fibre NBN comes with it a consequence to phone service. Fixed landlines now operate using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) on the fibre network and no longer over copper. The home phone was powered through the 5V from the phone line, but now we operate over the internet, we need to use our modems to transfer this voice data, and our modems require power. So in a blackout your home phone will no longer be an option, so you need to use your mobile. So hopefully your phone has some charge. If not, try using your car to charge your phone. Or a laptop running on battery power to charge the phone.
The good news is that some essentials are still functional. If you are connected to town water (which 92% of the Australian population is) then your water is still going to be working because it is gravity fed. This means you still have access to drinking water. Are you connected to a gas supply? Whether you have your own gas bottles or connected to a central supply the good news is that this is still working too. So you’re still cooking and heating as usual. If you are on tank water then unfortunately your water is also blacked out, because it is most likely pumped to your taps with an electric pump. In this case a great trick for getting a free shower and topping up your drinking water bottles, is head down to your local beach and utilise the showers there. If you’re not brave enough for a cold shower however then maybe hit up your local gym, this may be the next best low cost shower option.
What to do for essential services? Unfortunately there is not that much that can be done to speed up repairs or replace your essential services during a blackout.
What to do for lighting? Well there are a few options. A popular option is candles. Candles are cheap and produce a nice natural light and last for atleast a few hours, which is quite an economical choice over torch light which requires batteries that are these days quite expensive. So if you are going to get by with torch light go for high efficiency LED bulbs, this way battery replacement is less frequent. Another option is a fuel based lamp, these are cheap to run too but more volatile, so caution must be exercised in order to avoid starting a house fire. Head down to your local camping store if you are looking for a lamp. Your local supermarket can supply you with candles and torches.
What to do for food? Well depends what you have in your cupboards. If your all out then maybe its time to eat out, or grab some simple meals from your local shop. In the situation of a prolonged blackout it is also a great option to grab your esky and fill it with the frozen items from your freezer. Leave space ontop for your fridge items.
If you require an uninterruptible 24 hour supply then you will need a carbon fuelled electric generator inverter and/or a solar panel system with high capacity batteries and controller. Both of these systems work well, the generator is noisy, produces exhaust and is expensive to run, whereas a solar solution is much more expensive to set up initially.
So that’s what to do in a blackout! We hoped it helped. And remember don’t panic because help is not far away if you need it. Thanks for reading another 24HEED post, if you enjoyed it and found it helpful please Share, Like or comment below.