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#StormEmma: how to stay safe and up-to-date during a power outage

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.

After days of speculation, anticipation and runs on the nation's bread supplies, The Beast from the East, aka Storm Emma, came, snowed and conquered many parts of the country.

While the novelty of the exceptional weather delighted plenty of us, a lot of households have been left without power as a result.

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.

Why does severe weather cause power outages?

During severe weather, powerful winds, rain and, in this case, snow, can cause damage to overhead power lines.

Also, the excess water that will result when the snow finally melts may get into underground electricity cable vaults and cause power cuts that way too.

When will your electricity 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 some delays.

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.

How can you prevent your pipes from bursting during a cold snap?

It is often said that you should run your taps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting during exceptionally cold weather, but this is a myth according to Richard Burke of the Heating and Plumbing Association of Ireland. Doing this can even cause your drain to freeze and your sink to become blocked.

The best way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to keep your house warm by leaving the heating on for longer at a lower temperature and by blocking gaps under doors and windows that reach the outside. And if your water tank is in your attic, it's wise to leave your trap door open to let some heat in.

Stay safe

Thankfully, severe weather events like Storm Emma are a novelty in Ireland and they usually pass quickly. But if you do happen to suffer a power outage or burst pipe, follow the tips above, try to stay calm and remember to check on your neighbours. And most important of all, stay safe.


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