Power outages can be stressful and even a little scary, but there are a number of things you can do to best handle a home with no electricity.
Storm Lorenzo has certainly got the nation talking - with forecast winds of up to 120km and the potential to leave thousands of homes and businesses around the country without power over the next 24 hours.
Outages are never welcome and can leave those affected with countless questions: 'When will my power return?', 'How do I stay safe?', ‘Should I unplug my fridge?'
Thankfully, ESB Networks provides plenty of useful information to help you stay informed, safe and up-to-date during a stint without electricity.
How can you prepare for a storm?
Stocking up on essentials is usually a good idea while having an emergency outage kit that includes a good torch, batteries, candles and lighters should be a must for every household. Remember if your heating goes, candles are a surprisingly effective way to give a bit of warmth to your home as well as light.
Remember to fully charge your phone and powerbank as well as turn on the immersion to ensure you have some hot water in case the worst should happen. And downloading a few episodes of your favourite show on Netflix for offline viewing should help keep you occupied while you wait for the power to return.
Finally, if you’re taking any prescription medication, make sure you have an adequate supply on hand at the first sign of extreme weather.
Why does severe weather cause power outages?
During severe weather, rain, snow and in this case powerful winds, can cause damage to overhead power lines as a direct result of trees falling on the lines and other such interruptions.
How long does it usually take for power to return?
When storms are forecast, ESB Networks crews take up station in the areas that are expected to be the worst affected and are on call to help fix fallen wires as needed.
In many cases, these crews are able to get electricity connections back up and running in a matter of hours.
However, crews sometimes have to wait some time before it is actually safe to get to work on fixing fallen power lines. It can also be difficult to locate and access damaged areas during particularly bad weather. In cases such as these, you may have to endure longer delays but anything over 36 hours is exceptionally rare.
How can you get updates on faults?
ESB Networks’ Fault Logging system allows you to check the status of your exact address. You just have to enter your MPRN (which is an 11-digit number written on your electricity bill) or account reference number, name and phone number to get an update this way.
ESB also provides updates and estimated restore times on its PowerCheck map and via its PowerCheck app, which is available on Android and iOS. This is another good place to get a sense of how long you’re likely to be without electricity.
You should also keep an eye on ESB Networks’ Twitter account, where you can tweet specific questions and get live updates.
In the case of an emergency, you can phone ESB Networks on 1850 372 999 or +353 21 238 2410.
How can you stay safe during a power outage?
It’s very important to stay well away from fallen or damaged electricity wires or poles during a power outage. If you come across damaged wires that aren’t being attended to by professionals, you should call ESB Networks or 112 as soon as you can. And remember to always keep a safe distance.
You should also switch off all of your household appliances and sockets (except for your fridge) during a power outage. This will prevent your system from overloading when your electricity supply returns.
As for your fridge, you should keep its door closed as much as possible and avoid opening your freezer door at all to help conserve the cold. Similarly, avoid opening windows and keep internal doors closed to keep in the heat.
Thankfully, severe weather events like Storm Lorenzo are still a novelty in Ireland and they usually pass quickly. But if you do happen to suffer a power outage follow the tips above, try to stay calm and remember to check on your neighbours if possible. And most important of all, stay safe and keep up-to-date with the latest weather and travel advice from the likes of Met Eireann and the AA.