Having to shut down power to preserve energy sounds like a story your parents would tell you about the 1970s, but it could be our new reality. National Grid has warned that it might have to shut down power for three-hour blocks in various areas of the country over the winter. The idea is to reduce use by 5% and would have to come into play if all gas supplies stop from Russia and there is large demand. For example, if it is particularly cold here. So we need to know how to prepare for blackouts in the UK this winter.
What does it mean for families and how can you keep the kids entertained in the dark?
What would happen with blackouts?
National Grid has called the situation “unlikely,” but it is possible. If increased demand threatened the “overall security and integrity of the electricity system across Great Britain,” it would inform consumers a day in advance that they would be without power for three hours.
The plan will come into action if there is a perfect storm of reduced electricity imports from Europe, not enough gas to fuel power stations and high demand within the UK.
What is being done to prevent blackouts?
The utility is looking at ways of freeing up capacity so that blackouts don’t happen. One scheme involves paying consumers to use power outside of peak times to spread the demand. National Grid will inform smart meter users the day before about when is the best time to use their energy. It calls this a ‘demand flexibility service’ and it will come into play on the 1st November.
Government was set to run a £15 million campaign advising consumers on how to preserve energy, but Prime Minister Liz Truss is said to have blocked it. She is thought to believe it would be seen as too ‘interventionist’.
How to prepare for blackouts
Without being sure of what the future holds, we need to know how to prepare for blackouts in the UK. Here are some tips:
Get some candles. Seems simple…and it is. It’s probably a good idea to buy a few now and not have to worry about pandemic-style toilet roll-hoarding closer to the time. In the event of a blackout at night time, you need some light and candles bring light.
You could also have a root around in your cupboards, because the chances are you already have a load that you had forgotten about.
Make sure you also have some matches or a lighter in the house and that you know where they are so you are ready. And be careful with naked flames around kids, obviously.
Seek out torches and battery lights
Another great source of light, and one that doesn’t come with the danger of burning, is a torch and battery lights, such as night lights. You do have to make sure that you have the correct batteries in the home for these items too.
Get a cool box and freeze ice packs
Three hours is a long time to be without power and you may have baby food, medicine or other products that you need to keep cool. Ensure you freeze the ice packs and then put them in the cool box with your chilled items to keep them fresh through the blackout.
Keep a phone battery pack charged
Having access to charge for your phone or tablet is important for safety and being able to contact people in an emergency. But it can also help with entertainment for the kids as well.
If you have elderly neighbours or family members, make sure they have access to a phone and, if it is a mobile, that they can charge it so they can contact you or other help if they need it.
Download a heap of stuff
When we are thinking about how to prepare for a blackout, this is important. The kids will be bored. Yes, a blackout might be a good opportunity for a family chat or board game, but that will only last so long. You can download programmes and films from places like iPlayer and Netflix to watch offline, so make sure you have enough to keep them busy.
Get a first aid kit
We don’t know at what time of day these blackout might happen. But, if they are in the evening it will be dark and that can lead to accidents. Have a full first aid kit at hand, just in case.
Fill up a flask
Three hours without a hot drink? No way! Get a flask and fill it with your hot beverage of choice to keep you caffeinated during the three-hour shutdown.