If the lights go out this summer, do you know what to do?

Residents in east and south east Melbourne are being encouraged to prepare for extreme temperatures by ensuring they know what to do if the power goes out in an emergency.

Electricity distributor United Energy plans year-round for summer and is assisting customers to get ready by issuing practical tips about how to prepare and recover in the event of unexpected power outages.

The tips advise how customers can plan for outages in order to stay safe and minimise inconvenience, as well as get back on with their day quickly once the lights come back on. Following this guidance will ensure people know to stay away and report fallen powerlines, can access up-to-date information in an emergency, access drinking water and more. Tips include:

  • Download the VicEmergency app, bookmark the United Energy outage map and keep emergency phone numbers handy;
  • Recharge phones and laptops so you can stay connected with family and friends;
  • Prepare a contingency plan if you rely on life support equipment or need electrical items to care for babies, people with disability, elderly or pets;
  • Have an emergency kit ready with cash for supplies, first-aid items, medications, torches, candles, matches, a portable radio and heavy-duty gloves;
  • Back-up computers and phones to keep data safe;
  • Consider alternative power sources for water pumps and cooking sources;
  • Make sure you know how to open your garage doors and gates manually; and
  • In the event of an outage, take care and stay clear of fallen powerlines and report them to us immediately on 132 099.

United Energy Fire Prevention Manager, Trevor Fisher, said even though the tips sounded simple, they could be easily overlooked during in preparing for extreme weather events.

“There is so much information available about how to plan and prepare for extreme heat, that it’s easy to forget about what impacts a power outage can have too – like causing ATMs to go down,” Mr Fisher said.

“Everyone needs to have a home emergency plan, 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 additional pressure on the local network and could cause outages, while bushfires could also affect electricity supply.

“Over 500 people in our three depots across the United Energy network have been working throughout the year to get the network ready for summer, making sure we deliver safe and reliable power to the community is our priority.

“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.”

As part of its work to prepare the network ahead of the summer season, United Energy has checked nearly 170,000 powerline spans to ensure vegetation is outside the required clearance zone and cut nearly 50,000 spans. United Energy has also inspected 50,000 poles and other assets, and continued work installing bushfire safety device, Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL).

It has also initiated a long-term program to possum proof all at-risk structures in high bushfire risk areas to reduce the fire risk from possum faults.