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What Causes a Power Outage and What Should You Do When There is One?

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Table of Contents

We’ve all probably experienced at least one power outage in our lives. Sometimes they can be a bit of a thrill – especially when it’s short-lived and unexpected. However, for the most part, power outages can be highly disruptive, impacting our daily lives and causing inconvenience and uncertainty.

Today, we’re going to talk all things power outages, including their causes and what you should do if you’re faced with a power outage. By understanding the dynamics of power outages and being prepared, you can minimise their impact and ensure the safety and comfort of your household.

So, keep reading to learn more about power outages.

What is a power outage?

A power outage occurs when the supply of electricity to an area is unexpectedly interrupted, resulting in a loss of power.

These outages can be planned, such as during scheduled maintenance or repairs, or unplanned due to various factors. Regardless of the cause, the effects can be felt by households, businesses, and communities at large.

What are the common causes of power outages?

Power outages can be attributed to a range of factors, including natural causes, equipment failures, and human factors. Understanding these causes can shed light on the nature of outages and the challenges faced by power distribution systems.

  • Natural Causes
    In Australia, severe weather conditions such as storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are primary culprits behind power outages. These events can damage power lines, disrupt the grid, and cause widespread blackouts. Lightning strikes, in particular, pose a significant risk, as they can directly impact power infrastructure. Other weather conditions, like snow and ice can cause issues for power systems too, such as weighing down powerlines.
  • Equipment Failures
    The aging infrastructure of power grids and equipment can cause issues and be challenging to manage. Over time, components of electrical systems can and do deteriorate, leading to increased vulnerability to failures. Malfunctioning transformers, circuit breakers, and other crucial equipment can trigger power outages. Additionally, equipment overloading and sudden power surges, often caused by faulty appliances or electrical wiring, can result in disruptions.
  • Human Factors
    Human activities can also contribute to power outages. Construction accidents, such as unintentional damage to power lines during excavation or building projects, can cause localised or even widespread outages. In some unfortunate cases, vandalism and theft of electrical equipment occur, leading to disruptions in the power supply.


What should you do during a power outage?

During a power outage, it is essential to prioritise safety, report the issue, minimise disruption, and ensure personal comfort and safety. By following these guidelines, you can navigate through the outage more effectively.

Ensuring Safety

Stay calm and assess the situation. Check if the outage is widespread or limited to your property. Be cautious of potential hazards, such as downed power lines, and avoid approaching them. Keep children and pets away from any dangerous areas.

Reporting the Outage

Contact your local utility company or authorities to report the outage. Provide accurate information, such as your location and any observed damages, to help expedite the restoration process. Follow any instructions or updates provided by the utility company. A lot of electricity companies now give you the ability to check if there is a known issue in your area as well, so you may find the info you need there.

Minimising the Disruption

Preserve perishable food items by keeping refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible. If the outage is prolonged, consider transferring essential items to coolers with ice packs.

If available, consider investing in backup power sources, such as generators, inverters, or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, to keep critical appliances running. Manage energy consumption wisely to extend the backup power availability.

Ensuring Personal Comfort and Safety

Use alternative lighting sources such as torches, candles, or lanterns. Ensure proper ventilation and carbon monoxide safety when using candles or fuel-burning lighting sources. We highly recommend having a designated home for torches, matches and any lighting devices you plan to use, that way you know where to find them in a power outage that happens when it’s dark.

Keep warm during colder seasons by using blankets, layering clothing, and confining activities to smaller areas to retain heat.

How to prepare for power outages

Taking proactive steps to safeguard your home and prepare for potential power outages can greatly reduce their impact and ensure your safety and comfort.

Home Electrical System

Regularly maintain and inspect your home’s electrical panels, wiring, and electrical appliances to identify any potential issues. Engaging a licensed electrician for periodic inspections is highly recommended. You can talk to them about installing surge protectors to safeguard electronic devices from power surges. Consider having a backup power solution, such as a generator, that can automatically activate during outages to power critical systems like refrigeration or medical equipment.

Emergency Supplies

Assemble a comprehensive emergency kit that includes essential items such as flashlights, batteries, including portable phone chargers, non-perishable food, bottled water, and necessary medications. Ensure you have a fully stocked first aid kit for any medical emergencies. Plan for an adequate supply of items to meet the needs of your household, including infants, elderly family members, or individuals with specific medical conditions. While you may think you can cover your bases with your mobile phone, you don’t want to rely on it alone!

Take care of your electrical system with us

If you’re based in Sydney and want to ensure that your electrical system is in the best condition possible, our professional electricians can help you. We’ve got your electrical maintenance, repairs, and installation covered.

We can also help you to troubleshoot the causes of power outages in your home and ensure the safety and reliability of your home’s electrical system.

Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to your electricity. Call us on 1300 770 771 or book online here.

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