What to do if there's a power blackout

Published 7:00am 28 December 2022

What to do if there's a power blackout
Words by Jodie Powell

In the midst of storm season the risk of power outages increases and Energex has compiled a handy guide to what to do.

Executive general manager operations Paul Jordon says recent severe weather is a sharp reminder of what to expect from a third La Nina.

“We are again facing a higher risk of severe thunderstorms, flooding and cyclones, which can cause major damage to the electricity network; both overhead and underground,” Paul says

“Please report fallen powerlines, sparking pillar boxes and any network damage you see to Energex on 13 19 62 or call emergency services on 000.

“Always stay well away from any grounded wires and faulty equipment because these may be life-threatening electrical hazards.

Report power problems

“Don’t assume we know about it or that somebody else has reported it. The more detailed information we have from the community, the better we can respond, make the area safe, and get your lights back on.”

He says when the ground is already saturated, there’s a greater chance of large trees toppling and bringing down powerlines.

“We have a robust vegetation management program to reduce the risk of damage from trees, and we also appreciate members of the public spotting and reporting any branches growing too close to powerlines.

Leave it to the experts

“But please don’t attempt to trim trees near lines yourself - it’s a high-risk job that should be left to professional arborists trained to work near overhead powerlines.”

Paul says it’s essential everyone is prepared for the possibility of prolonged power outages because it takes time for weather conditions to ease, damage to be assessed across a wide area and extensive network repairs to be completed.

“Our crews will access work sites and commence repairs when it’s safe to do so, but that can mean waiting for floodwaters to recede or cyclonic winds to pass,” he says.

“If wild weather plays havoc, we will safely restore your power, but it often can’t happen overnight.

“The best thing you can do is ensure your household or business is prepared for the worst-case scenario.”

How to be prepared

  • Fill gas bottles for cooking on the barbecue and heating water
  • If you have a 12-volt camping system, which often includes a fridge, solar panel, and lights, charge it and test everything
  • It’s also handy to charge devices like mobile phones and laptops, and consider having a portable charger ready
  • Have a fully stocked Storm Kit stored and ready to use.

I did not flood, so why did I lose power?

Energex says that unfortunately, power outages are common during and after severe weather.

“We know it’s hard to have no power, but the reality is you’re likely connected, somewhere in your community, to electricity infrastructure that has flooded or is critically damaged and needs repairs.

“Please know we do everything we can to safely repair the electricity network and get you connected as soon as possible.

“However, if your neighbours on either side of you have power, give us a call as you may have a blown fuse.”

Why can't the electricity network be moved to higher ground?

Energex says power assets, including transformers and substations, must be close to communities and properties that require the electricity.

“However, rest assured, where possible we are continuing to improve the disaster resilience of the power network.

“If your premises has been damaged or flooded, we may have manually turned off your power supply for your safety.

If this has happened, these are the steps to get your power restored:

  1. You are disconnected for safety. We have inspected and disconnected power to your premises due to storm damage, flooding or inundation, and left an Electricity Defect Report (Form 3) in your meter box.
  2. Arrange a safety check. You, your building manager/Body Corporate, or landlord, need to arrange a safety check by a licensed electrical contractor. Note: If you know your electrical fittings have been damaged, flooded or inundated, you don’t need to wait for an Electricity Defect Report. Arrange a safety check and your licensed electrical contractor will leave a Certificate of Test and Compliance in the meter box for Energex.
  3. Make safe. Your licensed electrical contractor will complete a safety check and fix any defects. They will complete the contractor section of our form to confirm the site is safe for reconnection. You, your building manager/Body Corporate, or landlord will need to then contact us to arrange reconnection. Ask your licensed electrical contractor if they do this on your behalf.

Premises is reconnected. An Energex crew will visit to confirm defects have been rectified and reconnect your premises to the electricity network. You'll have power as soon as the network has been safely re-energised. Although built to stand up to extreme weather, powerlines can be affected by lightning strikes, high winds, heavy rain, flooding and flying debris. These conditions could damage or bring down powerlines in your area, which can cause power outages and life-threatening electric shocks. Follow these steps to stay safe during and after severe weather:

  1. Look out for fallen powerlines as they can be hidden around fallen branches, debris and water.
  2. Stay at least 10 metres away and warn others. Always assume powerlines are live and dangerous.

Report fallen powerlines immediately by calling 000 or Energex on 13 19 62.


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