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Don’t get left in the dark

Weather has many impacts, and can sometimes disrupt power supplies. Would you know what to do in a power cut? Now the new 105 telephone line is free to call, and connects you to your electricity network operator so you can get the information you need on your power supply – something that is especially useful during adverse weather conditions.

As days get shorter and winter draws in, across the UK we begin to brace ourselves for wetter, windier weather. Moving into the latter part of the year, storms are on the horizon – with conditions increasing the likelihood of flooding, as well as strong winds or lightning, which can all cause damage to vital infrastructure such as power lines.

This can mean disruptions to people’s electricity supply. Indeed, last year, Storm Desmond caused power cuts for thousands of homes in Cumbria, as well as severe flooding which caused bridges to collapse and left members of the community stranded.

Significant investment by electricity network companies means that power cuts aren’t an everyday occurrence for most us. However, if they do happen and you’re elderly, medically dependent on electricity or have young children they can be more than just inconvenient.

What to do during disruption

While a more robust power network is good news it does mean that many people just don’t know what to do if they do have a power cut. In fact, recent research commissioned by Energy Networks Association found that 72% of British people don’t know who to contact, with 43% incorrectly contacting the company they pay the bills to (their energy supplier) to report a power cut.

In fact, the organisations that can help are the network operators – organisations the public rarely has a need to contact. Network operators play a vital role managing and maintaining the power lines and substations that deliver electricity into homes and businesses across the UK. There are several network operators serving the UK, and the one which looks after your local electricity power lines depends entirely on the area you live in. However, latest research found only 11% of the British public could correctly name their local operator, showing just how many people are unaware of what to do if the lights do go out.

Connecting consumers

To help change this and support customers the electricity network operators have worked in partnership with Energy Networks Association (ENA) to fund and create 105 – a national, easy to remember number for people across England, Scotland and Wales to report or get information about a power cut.

105 is free for anyone to call, regardless of who they pay their electricity bills to, and can be used on landlines and mobiles. It will connect consumers directly to their local electricity network operator enabling them to get the information they require, as well to report any damage to power lines or substations, something particularly useful if their area is experiencing adverse weather conditions.

By providing a simple, memorable number, which customers are being encouraged to save in their phones, ENA hopes that people will find it simpler and easier to be put through to the people behind the power who can really help. It will still be possible to contact local electricity networks directly, via their social media channels, website or direct phone number.

Mel Harrowsmith, Head of Civil Contingencies at the Met Office said, “In the run up to a storm it’s still important for people to keep an eye on weather forecasts and impacts, but with the 105 number people are now better armed to deal with any potential power cuts this autumn and winter.”

Energy Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, also commented: “For the first time, customers across the country will have a quick and simple way of getting information on power cuts affecting their households. It also allows the public to report any damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put themselves, or others at risk. 105 is a memorable number and you can also save it to your phone.”

105 is supported by - a new website which will route those who prefer to go online for support to their local network operator. It also provides advice on what to do in a power cut such as:

  • Always switch off electrical appliances that shouldn’t be left unattended, but leave a light switch on so you can tell when the power has come back on
  • Check on any neighbours that might be in need of help
  • Make sure to wrap up warm
  • Use torches, rather than candles, for light during the power cut as they are much safer.