What to Do When There Is a Power Outage

Date Jun 2, 2020
Blog category Power
By Staff Writer


It can be more than just a little inconvenient to deal with a power outage in your household - not only can it end up in expensive repairs being needed, it can also be dangerous for the household occupants. Luckily, most of the power outages that happen in NZ are sorted within a few hours; however, in some serious cases, power can be out for days.

Many of us rely on power to go about our normal day or night, so experiencing an unexpected power outage can be quite frustrating. Luckily, there are ways that you can easily prepare both your family and yourself for the event of a power outage.

In this blog post, we’ve put together our top tips for surviving a power outage, including what you can do before, during and after the event.


Young Kiwi family getting through a power outage


Things to do to protect yourself during a power outage

The power can go out for a number of reasons, from a power line being knocked down to bad stormy weather conditions - and no one can really predict when it’ll happen. While the utility companies will work hard and fast to return the power promptly, there is no guarantee as to how quickly this will be done.

When the power goes out in your home, you’ll need to quickly think about what needs to be done in order to keep both your family and home safe during an outage. Here’s what you can do to help stay protected when the power goes out:


All electrical appliances should be unplugged

When you’re experiencing a power outage, one of the first things you should do is to unplug all of your electronics from the outlets. If your appliances are still plugged in when the power returns, power surges or spikes can actually damage them.


Avoid using candles

Although it may seem like the best alternative to using your electric lights, candles are definitely not the best option during a power outage. Because candles can put your home at risk of a fire, it’s best to use either rechargeable or battery powered flashlights instead.


Fill up your bath with water

Often when the power goes out, there is a chance that municipal water won’t continue to flow shortly after the outage. By filling up your bath, buckets and sinks with water, you’ll have a supply of water for washing, drinking and flushing the toilet.


Don’t waste your smartphone’s battery

It’s only natural that the first thing you may do to pass the time during an outage is to jump on your phone and scroll through social media. However, as you don’t know exactly how long the power will be out for, it’s best to conserve your battery instead.

Try to use your smartphone only for emergency calls and to regularly check for updates on when the power will return. If your phone is already low on battery, you can charge it using your car battery!


Don’t travel unless you need to

Traffic lights tend to stop working when the power is out, so try to eliminate any unnecessary travel, particularly by car. If you do need to drive somewhere, be sure to take care at intersections where the lights aren’t working, and follow the standard give way rules.


Things you can do during a power outage

After you have followed the above steps to ensure your home and family are safe and protected during a power outage, you may soon become a bit bored and want something to do to pass the time. 

We’ve gathered our top tips for things you can do during a power outage:


Cook up a feast

If the electricity has been out for a while, now is a good time to cook or eat any perishable foods from the fridge or freezer. For those that don’t have a gas stove, you can get out the old barbeque or gas cooker to use.

Avoid opening and closing the fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary, and try to ensure that all food contents are packed tightly so that they can retain their chill.


Adjust your smart phone settings

Don’t forget, small adjustments to your phone settings can help to extend its battery life. Try dimming the screen light, reducing the auto-lock time and avoid any apps that can easily drain your battery (such as online games, Snapchat and YouTube).


Turn on the radio

If you’re unable to access your power providers website during an outage, use a portable radio to try and get updates. There are many radio stations that will give the latest information and updates - so there’s no need to call 111 (unless it’s an emergency).


Play some board games

Although frustrating, power outages provide a perfect opportunity to play some good old fashioned board games with the family. It’s a great time to relive all your childhood memories by playing classics like Scrabble, Cluedo and Monopoly. It’ll give the family a nice break from technology and help to easily pass the time.


Leave one light on

It’s hard to know whether it’ll be seconds, minutes or hours before the electricity will come back on after an outage. If all our your appliances are switched off, it can be difficult to tell when the electricity actually comes back on!

By leaving one light on, you’ll be able to easily know once power has been restored to the grid.


How to prepare for a power outage in advance

No one likes to be caught by surprise - that’s why it’s important to prepare for a power outage in advance. It’s easier than you think to be prepared, and it can make a huge difference at the time. Here’s how you can make sure you’re prepared for the next power outage:


Stock up on water

Although water is basic and normally easily accessible, it’s one of the most important elements needed for our bodies. Make sure you stock up on plenty of water - not only in the event of a power outage, but for natural disasters too. The general rule is to have one gallon of water for each person per day - so make sure you purchase enough water for everyone.


Invest in a survival kit

No one likes to prepare for the worst, but it can really make all of the difference in the event of an emergency or disaster. You can ensure you and your family are prepared for the worst by investing in a quality survival kit for your home.


Invest in alternative lighting

The last thing anyone wants is to be left in the dark during a power outage! As mentioned before, candles are not recommended during an outage - so make sure you invest in alternative lighting (battery powered or rechargeable) and have them in an easily accessible location in your property.


Invest in alternative cooking devices

If you mainly rely on your microwave or oven to cook in your home, you may want to consider investing in an alternative for when you’re unable to use those devices. Gas cookers and barbecues are great options, as they don’t rely on electricity in order to work.


Invest in surge protectors

There’s nothing worse than going to use your appliances after a power outage, only to find they have been damaged by a power surge or voltage strike. By investing in surge protectors, you can have peace of mind that your appliances won’t be damaged during an outage.


Are you in the middle of a power outage right now?

Is your power currently out? Before making any assumptions, it’s best to determine if your power company has already acknowledged that there’s been an outage, as they may already be working to fix the problem.

In the event of a power outage, power companies are usually inundated with users around the country either reporting the fault or asking for an update. In most cases, they are aware of the issue - so make sure you jump online to their website first for any updates before entering a report yourself.

For those who can’t access the internet to check for updates, the best power providers have a phone line that you can call which will report on any outages, fixes and restoration information for customers in New Zealand.

If for some reason, there is no mention of an outage on their website or phone line, you can make a report yourself online or by contacting them directly. Here’s some location-specific information about reporting power outages:


Report a power outage in Wellington

The Wellington Electricity website is the place to go to check for any current updates on outages in the area - this includes Porirua, Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast.

If there is a power outage that hasn’t been acknowledged on their website, you can report a Wellington power outage here.


Report a power outage in Auckland

Are you experiencing a power outage anywhere in the greater Auckland area? You can use the Vector website to check for any updates. To make things even easier for you, you can sign up for updates to be sent directly to your phone if there is a known outage in the area.

Need to report an Auckland power outage?  You can send this directly to Vector to look into.


Report an outage in Christchurch

Experiencing a power outage in Christchurch? Orion has an advanced network management system that almost immediately identifies any outages. To report a Christchurch power outage or to get updates, check out the Orion website.


Are you prepared for the next blackout?

You’d be surprised as to the difference it can make to be prepared for the next power outage - even if you haven’t experienced many before. By being prepared, investing in the right tools and knowing what to do in an outage, you’ll make the entire experience much more bearable for everyone involved.


Make sure you educate any family members or others living in your property as well, so they are aware of what needs to be done and what steps to take in the event of a power outage.