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Prepare Yourself this Winter Last Christmas and New Year was a difficult time for a number of people. The rains brought flooding and high winds brought down power lines, leaving many people without power for up to three days. Many were not fully prepared for what happened, so we have compiled a few hints and tips to help should there be a repeat this year.

Power Cuts

Generators Those of us who were without power for three days last Christmas might have appreciated having had a generator to run some of the basics in the house. The panel opposite has some information on generators should you decide to go down this route.

Radio During power cuts, the best way to receive news is often a wind-up or battery powered radio tuned into local news stations. Last year, it was annoying that many utility companies were directing people to their websites for more information or offered a phone number but if there is no power and everyone is telephoning at the same time you may not be able to easily access the information. You can now buy wind-up radios from around £10. Telephones One of the most common problems during a power cut is being unable to use your telephone. Many people now have cordless telephones and almost all of these require electricity to work. To get around this, all you need is a old fashioned plugin landline telephone which you can use at all times and can be bought for around £5. If you don’t have one, we would advise you to buy one before you ‘need’ one. Mobile Phones Make sure you keep your mobile phone fully charged and limit its use to preserve the battery. If you have a smart phone, remember that it may be the only device that can access the internet. However, be aware that even mobile phones can stop working properly during a power cut as more people than usual try and use the network at the same time and some phone masts might not have a power back-up or this might run out during a prolonged outage. 12 The Onion magazine

Fridges and Freezers People often ask how long food will last in a fridge or freezer during a power cut. The official advice is that it should be safe as long as power is out no more than four hours, although that seems a bit cautious and others suggest that 15 hours is more realistic as long as you keep the door closed as much as possible. Thawed or partially thawed food in the freezer may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. Partial thawing and refreezing may affect the quality of some food, but the food will be safe to eat.

TIPS Keep one light on so you know when the power returns. If your electricity or gas goes off, make a note of the date and time of the disruption, and for how long it lasted. This means you will have a record if you want to claim compensation from the energy company for multiple disruptions. Have spare charcoal so you can cook on your barbecue if necessary. I know several people who cooked their turkey like this during the Christmas power cut last year. Remember to have candles, matches, torches and spare batteries available.

The onion november 14  

The Onion magazine - a monthly printed magazine delivered by the Royal Mail to 23,000 homes in Kent & East Sussex - with a readership of ove...