Safety Tips During a Power Outage

Safety Tips During a Power Outage

Power outages are common in Australia and are often caused by severe weather, equipment failure, or accidents. In 2017, 100,000 properties lost power due to Cyclone Debbie. Blackouts Explained - Energy Facts Australia 

Knowing how to stay safe during these events is crucial to protect yourself and your family. Electrical safety in the home | NSW Government 

This blog will provide comprehensive safety tips to help you stay safe and prepared during a power outage.

Table of Contents [Jump Links]

  1. Introduction

  2. Understanding Power Outages

  3. What Causes Power Outages

  4. Essential Safety Tips During a Power Outage

    • Stay Informed

    • Keep Clear of Fallen Power Lines

    • Use Alternative Lighting

    • Food and Water Safety

    • Heating and Cooling

    • Medical Needs

    • Backup Power Sources

  5. Promoting Electrical Safety Education

  6. Conclusion

Understanding Power Outages

A power outage, a blackout, occurs when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. Common causes in Australia include severe weather events like storms and floods, equipment failure, and accidents that damage power lines. These outages can disrupt daily life and pose safety risks, making it essential to be prepared.

Experiencing a power outage can be stressful and challenging, especially if you're not adequately prepared. Here are some essential safety tips to help you navigate through a power outage safely and effectively.

What Causes Power Outages

Power outages can occur for a variety of reasons, disrupting daily life and posing safety risks. Understanding the common causes can help you better prepare and respond when they happen. 

Here are some typical causes of power outages:

  • Severe Weather like storms, lightning, high winds, and flooding can damage power lines and electrical infrastructure, leading to outages.

  • Ageing or faulty electrical equipment can fail, resulting in power interruptions.

  • Vehicle collisions with utility poles or construction accidents can damage power lines and cause outages.

  • Animals like squirrels, birds, and rodents can interfere with electrical equipment, leading to power disruptions.

  • Excessive demand for electricity, especially during peak usage times, can overload the electrical grid and cause outages.

  • Scheduled maintenance and upgrades to the electrical grid can temporarily interrupt power supply.

  • Earthquakes, bushfires, and other natural disasters can severely damage electrical infrastructure, causing widespread outages.

  • Mistakes made by utility workers or contractors can sometimes result in power outages

Essential Safety Tips During a Power Outage

Stay Informed

Keep Updated

  • Monitor Local News and Weather Reports: Staying informed is crucial during a power outage. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio handy to listen to local news and weather updates. Many local news stations and government websites provide real-time information on power outages and safety advice.

  • Sign Up for Alerts: Enroll in alert systems provided by local authorities and utility companies. These alerts can be sent to your phone or email, giving you timely updates about the power outage and any necessary safety precautions.

Keep Clear of Fallen Power Lines

Safety First

  • Stay Away: If you come across fallen power lines, maintain a distance of at least 8 meters. Fallen power lines can still be live and extremely dangerous. Do not touch them or try to move them yourself.

  • Report Immediately: Contact your electricity provider or emergency services to report fallen power lines. Provide them with the exact location so they can address the issue promptly.

Use Alternative Lighting

Battery-Powered Lights

  • Avoid Candles: While candles might seem like a convenient option, they pose a significant fire risk. Instead, use battery-powered lights or lanterns.

  • Keep Extra Batteries and Flashlights Handy: Store flashlights and extra batteries in accessible locations around your home. Regularly check the batteries to ensure they are still working.

Food and Water Safety

Keep Doors Closed

  • Preserve Food: To keep your food safe for as long as possible, avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors unnecessarily. A closed refrigerator can keep food cold for about 4 hours, and a full freezer can maintain its temperature for up to 48 hours.

  • Use Coolers with Ice: If the outage is prolonged, transfer perishable items to coolers with ice. This can help maintain a safe temperature for your food.

Safe Water

  • Boil Water: During a prolonged power outage, water purification systems may not work properly. Boil water before drinking or use bottled water to ensure it is safe.

  • Emergency Water Supply: Keep a supply of bottled water for drinking and basic hygiene needs. Aim for at least one gallon per person per day.

Heating and Cooling

Stay Warm

  • Dress in Layers: In cold weather, layering clothing helps trap body heat. Use blankets, sleeping bags, and other insulating materials to stay warm.

  • Avoid Gas Stoves for Heating: Using gas stoves or ovens for heating can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, use battery-powered heaters designed for indoor use or stick to warm clothing and blankets.

Stay Cool

  • Hydrate: During hot weather, staying hydrated is essential. Drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activities.

  • Cooling Centres: If the heat becomes unbearable and you don't have a battery-powered fan, go to a designated cooling centre in your community. These centres are often set up by local authorities during extreme heat events.

Medical Needs

Backup Power for Medical Equipment

  • Essential Equipment: Ensure that all essential medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, CPAP machines, and medication refrigeration, has a backup power source. This could be a generator or a battery backup system.

  • Emergency Supply: Keep an emergency supply of medications and necessary medical supplies. Make sure you have enough to last at least a week.

Emergency Kit

  • Preparedness: Have an emergency kit ready that includes first-aid supplies, necessary medications, and a list of emergency contacts. Your kit should also include items like a flashlight, batteries, and a multi-tool.

Backup Power Sources


  • Proper Maintenance: Regularly maintain your generator to ensure it is in good working condition. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule and guidelines.

  • Safe Operation: Place the generator outside and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate a generator inside your home or garage, even with windows open. Ensure it is on a dry, flat surface and follow all safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Want to Be Professionally Qualified?

Understanding electrical safety is vital. Consider enrolling in professional courses such as UEE30820 - Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician and Certificate III in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration offered by Building Institute NSW.  These courses provide comprehensive training and certification, ensuring you have the knowledge and skills to handle electrical systems safely.


Staying safe during a power outage requires preparation and awareness. By following these safety tips, you can protect yourself and your family from potential hazards. Remember to stay informed, use alternative lighting, ensure food and water safety, and consider professional training in electrical safety. You can also be a certified electrician to stay on top of the game. 

So, Stay safe and prepared with Building Institute NSW!


How to keep warm when the power is out?

Answer: Tips to stay warm during a power outage:

  • Close any blinds/curtains or put blankets or towels up to cover windows and provide insulation.

  • Close off rooms to avoid losing heat. 

  • Keep activity to a single area and try to move around to create warmth with your body.

How can I control my power consumption?

Answer: Tips for Saving on Your Electric Bill

  • Turn Down Your Thermostat. It's one of the most effective ways to cut your energy usage. 

  • Turn Down the Tank. 

  • Think Before You Wash and Dry Clothes. 

  • Reduce Phantom Load.

How can we decrease power outages?

Answer: To lower your energy use in your home or business, try the following: Turn off any tools, equipment, or appliances that are not in use. To avoid wasting energy on idle appliances, turn them off at the wall or disconnect them.

How do you sleep during a power outage?

Answer: Use shades to keep your room from heating up during the day, and open windows at night to allow in air if it's colder. Heat rises, so if you live in a multi-story building, sleep on the lower floors. 

What generator is best for power outages?

Answer: Portable generators powered by diesel fuel are one of the most fuel-efficient solutions available, and they are strong and flexible, even during lengthy power outages. Their capacity to withstand lengthy use offers a consistent and dependable supply of power for your household needs until normal service is restored.