When the lights go out

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The high life: United Energy crews attend to power pole repairs. Picture: Supplied

ELECTRICITY distributor United Energy wants Mornington Peninsula residents to prepare for extreme temperatures and the fire season by ensuring they “know what to do if the power goes out in an emergency”.

The company says customers can plan for outages to ensure they stay safe and minimise inconvenience, as well as “get back on with their day quickly once the lights come back on”.

It says it plans year-round for summer, with “500 people involved in inspecting poles, cutting vegetation and installing bushfire mitigation devices”.

“However, [we] can’t control the weather, so these tips will help locals prepare for the summer ahead.”

Tips include downloading the VicEmergency app, bookmarking the United Energy outage map and keeping emergency phone numbers handy; recharging phones and laptops to stay connected with family and friends, and preparing a contingency plan for life support equipment or those needing electrical items to care for babies, people with disability, elderly or pets.

Other tips are to have an emergency kit ready with cash for supplies, first-aid items, medications, torches, candles, matches, portable radio and heavy-duty gloves, and back-up computers and phones to keep data safe.

The distributor says customers should consider alternative power sources for water pumps and cooking sources, and make sure they know how to open their garage doors and gates manually.

In the event of an outage, they should take care and stay clear of fallen powerlines and report them on 132 099, it says.

United Energy fire prevention manager Trevor Fisher said: “There is so much information available about how to plan and prepare for a bushfire emergency that it’s easy to forget about what impacts a power outage can have – like causing ATMs to go down.

“Everyone needs to have a fire plan and maintain their property in line with state government and emergency services’ advice, but United Energy hopes its tips help residents feel they have an added safety net should the lights go out.”

Mr Fisher said the network was designed and maintained to cope with summer weather, but extreme heat and weather events put extra pressure on the network which could cause outages, while bushfires could also affect supply.

“If the power does go out, we are ready to respond quickly, and we encourage residents in the United Energy network to be as prepared as possible,” he said.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 17 December 2019

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