Power outages are never convenient and can be caused by a number reasons, ranging from common issues such as weather events (like storms or strong winds) to maintenance. Other causes can include animal interference, car accidents or digging near underground powerlines.

In the event of a power outage in your area, we've got tips on what to do, what you should have prepped ahead of time, and what to do about food during the outage. If you need some extra information or just someone to talk to, Sonder is here to provide all the support and help you need.

Your power outage kit

Make sure you have a torch, charged mobile phone and battery-operated radio are all ready to have on-hand for any potential power outages that happen. Have some candles ready just in case you need some extra light.

As for food, make sure that your pantry is well stocked with non-perishable food items, such as grains, long-life dairy, canned tuna, and peanut butter. Having a large supply of fresh water set aside - this could be one of those large value-packs of water bottles you can get from the supermarket - is also recommended.

Lastly, keep a list of emergency contacts on paper in an easy-to-find location just in case you need to reach emergency services urgently.

What to do during a power outage

Call your electricity supply provider to let them know that your power has gone out. You can often check details of the power outage (including if its scheduled maintenance) and its severity on their website or on their app as well.

Next, turn off and unplug all electrical appliances at the power point. This will help to prevent any appliance or equipment damage if there's a power surge following the outage. However, leave at least one switch or appliance on so you know when power is restored.

Look outside for any damage, such as downed powerlines. Be sure to stay away from any fallen lines. You can also check if your neighbours have power.

Food safety during a power outage

One of the main worries during a power outage is how this will affect the food in your fridge and whether everything will be safe to eat or use afterwards. When a power outage does occur, make sure you keep your fridge and freezer doors shut as much as possible in order to maintain the cold temperatures inside. An unopened fridge can keep food cold for up to four hours while an unopened freezer can preserve food for up to two days if full (or about 24 hours if half full).

As for how you can tell if perishable food is safe during or after a power outage, follow the "2 hour/4 hour" rule:

  • If the power is out for less than two hours, it's okay to refrigerate or eat the food.

  • If the power is out for between two to four hours, it's okay to eat the food but don't refrigerate it.

  • If the power is out for longer than four hours, toss the food.

Make sure you make a note of when the power went out so you can determine whether your food is safe to eat or not after everything is back to normal.

Following a power outage

When the power is back, make sure you:

  • Check your refrigerated food items carefully. It's recommended that you check the internal temperature of food items using a food thermometer.

  • Chuck out any food - especially raw meat - if there are any signs of spoilage, such as foul odour, sticky or slimy texture, or unusual colouring.

  • Check frozen food items carefully. If the items are frozen and there are still icicles on the packaging, the food may have been refrozen and is possibly unsafe to eat.

  • Chuck out any frozen food items that have begun to thaw or have developed freezer burn.

It's better to be cautious when it comes to food after a power outage. If you're not sure, just throw it out - better to be safe than risk getting sick!

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime, in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: Ausgrid, Energy Safe Victoria, AEMO and Food Safety.

Image credit: Антон Дмитриев on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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