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Note: This information is intended as general advice only and may not account for your unique circumstances such as usage habits, home and power provider. Please talk to your lines company for specific information.

So you’ve had a mailbox pamphlet drop or email to let you know there’s a planned power cut to conduct maintenance on your lines. This is usually provided with a few weeks' notice at least, so you’ve got time to make arrangements or be out of the house when it’s happening.

In this guide you’ll learn things like:

  • Getting the home ready for a power cut.
  • What equipment might help.
  • When it might make sense to leave the house during the outage.

Confirm the dates of the outage

It’s really important to get the exact days of the power outage - and the exact times of shut off. Power lines companies will stick to these fairly closely as they know the community/street will be relying upon knowing when they won’t have power. One thing you may want to do closer to the scheduled date is reconfirm the time and date.

Power lines companies ask households to get in touch to advise of any issues this scheduled maintenance may cause - they won’t always be able to change this, but this is done in case a big event or something critical can’t be moved. If they do make a change, this should be communicated to everyone, but we’d suggest proactively finding out in the preceding days just in case.

Talk to the lines company if this will cause an issue

Perhaps the time or date of the power cut is going to be a problem for your household specifically. If that’s the case, make sure to get in touch with the lines company sooner rather than later via the number they provide. You can also contact your retailer (like Powershop) if there’s a problem and we’ll collate all our customers’ concerns and communicate them to the lines company. If they reschedule the work, we can advise you directly via email.

They may consider an alternative date if enough homes within the area are requesting this.

Medical equipment at home? Get back up solutions

If you’ve already got medical equipment with a long-life back up battery or a generator installed, then you’ll be ready for a power outage - planned or otherwise. Any household that relies on assistive technology or medical equipment needs to incorporate continuity of power into their care plan. Speak with your healthcare providers for more guidance on this and check out our Powershop help about medical dependent customers.





Get your first aid kit ready

This is simply a good thing to have in place within your home regardless of power cuts or anything else. A well-stocked first aid kit comes in handy and stops you getting caught out. When the power’s out and you’re at home, lighting can be a problem and hazards are heightened. Just make sure the first aid kit is kept in one place and it is easy to reach by all members of the family!

Need a first aid kit without the hassle of assembling it yourself? Check out St John’s First Aid Kits.

Buy a good torch and ensure it has new batteries installed

Torches are your best friend during a power cut. The decent ones are worth investing in - that means one that has good coverage from its beam, lasts a long time on the battery and most crucially, emits bright light.

Your torch (or better yet, torches) should also be heavy duty, so it keeps going when dropped. We’d suggest keeping the torch in one place at all times, so you know exactly where to find it when the lights go out.

Candles and battery-operated lighting

Getting your supplies together may also include a trip to the outdoors and camping store or jumping online to find some long-lasting candles. As tempting as it may be to use your scented candle you got for Christmas, a pitch-black home is better served with candles specifically designed to be safe, easy to light and bright. The holders and size of the candles may be larger than those you might find at a candlelit dinner, but they’ll provide much better function when everyone’s trying to see what’s going on! As with anything involving a flame, keep these positioned safely and out of reach of young children or pets. If the power cut is caused by an actual civil defence emergency like an earthquake, don’t use a candle - they can create fire hazard during an aftershock.

If you’d prefer another (easier and safer) option, battery operated lighting can be a good choice. Portable nightlights can supply some function, but if you really want a decent result, consider a proper camping / civil defence battery operated lamp. These will run on larger cell batteries as they’re designed to be very bright and last a long time. They can be quickly picked up and repositioned, giving them both light and safety advantage over candles.

Blankets and sleeping bags

If the power outage is scheduled overnight, or during the day in wintertime, having blankets and sleeping bags handy is be a good idea. With heating and ventilation systems unable to operate, you may need some extra layers to keep warm. Otherwise, if you’ve got a home with a fireplace, a nice fire may be the solution to your heating and lighting challenges in the lounge area.

Sleeping bags are designed to keep the occupant warm in very cold temperatures. If the power’s off for an extended period of time and insulation isn’t 100% perfect, the home can start to feel a little bit like camping outside!

Food that doesn’t need cooking

Prepare for power cuts by having snacks and non-cook food ready for meals. This might mean sandwiches, salads or fruit. If you’ve got power nearby in the community but not in your home, and the weather allows, perhaps it’s a good opportunity to buy ready-made food from the supermarket. We’ll leave what’s on the menu up to you - but be prepared to have a day’s worth of food lined up that doesn’t need the kitchen appliances to serve.

Camping gas cooker or BBQ

If you’re a household who enjoys the outdoors and camping over the holidays, then you might be more prepared for a power outage! If you’ve got a safe, open, outdoor area on the property to light a camping gas cooker, you can make use of this to cook for everyone in absence of the stove. The novelty will most certainly be there for the kids!

Alternatively, there are no rules that say you’re not allowed to BBQ year-round, so if you are working with enough light, why not take the power cut as an opportunity to get the barbie fired up. Just make sure you’ve got enough gas to run it, and the unit’s cleaned in the light of day - who wants to be cleaning a BBQ in the dark with hungry mouths to feed!?

Transistor radio

We’re going a bit old school here but hear us out. A battery-operated transistor radio is not just good to have when you know a power cut is coming, but worth having in the emergency kit during any emergency, such as earthquakes. Make sure you’ve got plenty of batteries and simply tune in to local radio where you’ll get updates if needed.

Battery pack for device charging

Keeping connected by mobile device relies upon your equipment having battery life. When the power’s out, a lot of us are even more reliant upon our phone or tablet. Consider getting a mobile battery pack with multiple USB outputs (both A and C port types) and with rating for enough to charge 2-3 phones, a tablet and maybe even a lightweight laptop. For short term power cuts, a smaller bank might be okay, but if you’re wanting to be ready for an entire day without power, look for a milliampere/hour or mAh capacity that’s bigger than average.

Enough mobile data for internet use

Along with the battery charge to use your phone, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got sufficient mobile data to get online and connect with others. Check your plan has enough data to take a full day of usage, without drastically draining your monthly total. Data in New Zealand, while more expensive compared to other countries, is becoming gradually cheaper, so if you haven't revised your phone plan for a while, it may be worth taking a look on your carrier’s website for potentially better options.

Going offsite

Another way to plan for a scheduled power cut is to simply get out of the house! Of course, this isn’t always a possibility if the timing doesn’t work or the logistics are too hard, but for many households taking a night away at a friend’s place, or a day out doing activities can turn an inconvenience into a positive. The advantage of doing an offsite day or night means that you’ll not be so focused on the exact time that the power goes off or on. For working professionals who are based at home, look for shared coworking spaces in your area, or pick your favourite cafe with WiFi to park up in and enjoy a change of scenery for your work-day.

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