Healthy living

Staying healthy during electrical interruptions

Interruption to power in your area may pose a risk to your health and safety, particularly in a heatwave.  Here are some simple measures that can be taken to minimise the effects.

Be prepared

  • Keep medications requiring refrigeration in a fridge, but wrap them in foil or a heat repellent container with an icepack ready to place with them if the power goes off.
  • Keep electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops charged so they are still able to be used during an outage.
  • Have a battery, solar or wind-up powered torch and radio available. Have spare batteries on hand.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and as cool as possible.

What to do during an outrage

  • Keep curtains and blinds closed to keep your home cool.
  • Pull down the outdoor shading of your home if you have one.
  • Limit the number of times you open the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Limit use of your oven and stove, if possible.
  • If there is a cool breeze at night, open up your house to help it to cool.
  • Consider using a battery operated personal fan.
  • Ensure you are able to remove your car from your garage, if it has an electrically operated door.
  • Check that electrical appliances, such as stoves and heaters, are switched off, as there is a risk of fire when electricity supply is restored if these appliances are left unattended.
  • Keep pets inside or in a cool place with ample water.
  • Take extra care if driving at night as street lights and traffic lights may not be operating.
  • In buildings with lifts take notice of the advice provided in case of power failure. If you get stuck, follow the procedure for contacting authorities outlined on the lift controls.
  • Make sure all taps are turned off if you use an electrical pressure pump. This will prevent flooding if supply is restored when you are not home.
  • After power comes back on following a prolonged outage, be careful eating food products usually stored in the fridge or freezer that may have been damaged by loss of cold storage. See also food safety tips.

What to do in longer term outrages

  • Ensure your car is topped up with fuel in case fuel bowsers are not operable.
  • Ensure you have sufficient cash on hand in case ATM and credit facilities are not available.
  • If you have all-electric cooking facilities, consider purchasing a small gas powered camping stove to heat food/water.
  • If your home has an electric hot water system and you keep using it, the water will go cold. Consider this if you anticipate a long wait before power is restored.
  • If the lack of electricity supply continues to affect your home, consider moving to friends, relatives or community facilities where these services are unaffected.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Acknowledgements

WA Health, Disaster Preparedness and Management Unit

SA Health, Government of Western Australia


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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