Most of us at some point or other will have experienced a power cut at home, these usually last a fairly short amount of time, and things usually bounce back quite quickly. I think most people have a torch or a candle and matches tucked away for these rare occasions, but I feel like I need to listen to my inner prepper this winter and make a few plans, just in case.
Here in the UK, there’s talk of there possibly, maybe, possibly being planned power cuts over the next few months in a bid to conserve our supplies of electricity.
I’m naturally a bit “careful” with our energy usage anyway, and if I’m alone and not doing anything that needs light, I’m happy to sit in the dark with a flickering candle. I find it quite relaxing now. At this time of year, I’m usually under a blanket and the heating stays off as long as we can stand it.
At least if the power cuts are planned, then we can make ourselves ready for them. I’m big on preparation, so here’s my plan, just in case the worst does happen and we are without power for a few hours on a regular basis. Hopefully you might find something useful in this list too.
27 tips for preparing for a planned power cut
Turn off the plugs to appliances when you have a power cut. When it comes back on there may be surges which could blow your electrical appliances. Also buy surge protectors and plug appliances into them.
Put a few extra candles in holders and have lanterns dotted around the house. I do this anyway, in case of an impromptu power cut.
Get some battery powered decorative lights and use those for ambient light. These are especially useful in hallways etc, where you a bit of light to see where you’re moving about.
Battery powered camping lanterns are great if you have children or pets, or both. We have ones which you can dim if you need a lower or higher light.
If you’re worried about naked flames and children or animals, fasten a head torch around an empty and clean plastic 2 litre milk carton filled with water and switch the torch on. It’s very safe and the bottle helps to diffuse the light around the room, making it much more effective.
For a more ambient light, you can snap a glow stick and drop it into a clean and empty plastic milk bottle. The glow sticks will last several hours and the kids could even draw faces or pictures on the bottles with a marker pen to make them more decorative.
My son loves a head torch, so we have a few of those to hand as he feels more comfortable if he has one of those in the dark.
Don’t open the fridge and freezer unless you really have to. The contents should be ok for a few hours, but will quickly thaw if you decide to rummage in the freezer while the electric is off.
If you know a power cut is coming, make a flask or two of your favourite hot drinks to keep you warm and hydrated.
Similarly, a flask of soup will warm you up and fill you up too.
If you can prepare ahead, a slow cooker full of stew will keep hot for several hours after it’s been switched off, and a hearty stew is a godsend if you’re cold.
If you have time, a hot water bottle or two can help keep you cosy.
Make sure anything requiring a charge, like your mobile phone, is fully charged up.
Remember, most mobile phones have a torch option, which is usually very bright. If you get stuck, you can always use this for a few minutes without running your phone battery down too much.
I’ve bought some small wind up torches for us to carry in our bags, so if the streetlights go out, we have the ability to light our winter walk home.
Invest in a power pack, these are great for charging phones up and other devices in a pinch.
Make sure you have a packet or two of spare batteries.
Get some blankets and throws ready to snuggle under.
Extra layers of clothing are great for keeping warm. A cardigan or jumper can make all the difference.
Always wear socks.
If it gets very cold, it’s fine to wear hat, scarf and gloves in the house. When working from home, I’ve been known to wear fingerless gloves while I type.
You can reduce heat loss by closing the doors on unused rooms and by closing the curtains too. I tuck my curtains behind my radiator as a force of habit.
If you have an open fire or a wood burner, make sure you have a good stock of kiln dried wood or fuel at the ready. Don’t forget the matches too! You can read about how to store wood for burning here.
Keep busy. You’ll feel the cold more if you’re sat still waiting for the power to come on. Take the dog for a walk, clean the oven by candlelight, play games with the family, have a disco by torchlight.
I know my son will want to build a cosy den in the lounge and sleep in it. He has a pop up tent he can get cosy in if he wants. The enclosed tent is easier to warm up and keep cosy, especially in a draughty room.
A battery powered or wind up radio is a good way to keep in touch with the outside world and keep you occupied and entertained too.
Snuggle with your loved ones for warmth, or go to bed and have an early night, or both. If you’ve got a pet like a cat or a dog, this is a great time to give them a cuddle.
Whether you’re lighting candles or a wood burner, it’s important to be safe and think about the risk of fire. Extinguish all candles and alternative heating sources before you go to sleep and air the room regularly to let in oxygen.
National charity Contact are encouraging parents of children with disabilities or who people rely on medical equipment to sign up to the Priority Services Register ahead of possible power cuts this winter. Contact your energy supplier directly to join their register. You will get priority support in an emergency — some may arrange heating and cooking facilities too. Read more about the Priority Services Register and where to get help with energy bills on Contact’s website. Visit their cost of living advice page for the latest information on support with household costs.
Hopefully none of the anticipated power cuts will happen and all of my forward planning will have been for nothing. I’m hoping if they do happen, they will be short term and I’ll be able to spin it within my household as a glorious adventure and an opportunity for some screen free family time.
In the meantime, I will continue to be “careful” or tight, as others might call it with my energy use. I know some of the things I’ve listed above I’ll be doing anyway, especially if it’s just me in the house.