Brits Warned to Keep Flashlight Handy in Case of Coronavirus Power-Out
( Breitbart )
UK Power Networks has told customers to store flashlights and warm clothes nearby in case there is a power outage during the coronavirus pandemic. The electricity distribution operator, which manages networks for 8.3 million homes and businesses in London and in the East and South East of England, advised customers in an email on Tuesday on how to stay safe during a powercut. In an email seen by Breitbart London, UK Power Networks told customers to prepare for a blackout by “keep[ing] a torch handy”, and “consider keeping spare batteries in a memorable, easy to reach place”. They also advised maintaining a traditional landline telephone which would be unaffected by a power cut as they take their power from telephone exchanges which also have backup power available. “It’s especially important to keep warm if you are unwell, less mobile or very young. Dress warmly in several layers and have a hat, gloves and a blanket to hand so that you can keep warm. You can also reduce heat loss by closing doors on unused rooms and by closing curtains,” the letter adds. “If your fridge or freezer doors are closed your food and medicines will remain cold for several hours even if the electricity is off,” it also said. While the regional grid company maintains in the message that “power cuts don’t happen very often”, the measures described suggested that customers should prepare for more than just a brief outage.
In response to the letter, UK Power Networks told The Telegraph: “We regularly contact customers on our Priority Services Register, to ensure we meet their needs and it’s never more important than in the current circumstances.”
The letters were sent out in recognition that as people are working or self-isolating at home, there is more pressure on domestic supplies, with weekday usage akin to levels seen on the weekend, according to University of Strathclyde professor and co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre, Keith Bell. “I think where there might start to be some pressure is when you see a lot of staff getting ill or self-isolating. “That will have an impact on the work force and where there are faults that occur we have to hope that we have enough people to respond to them. I guess that might become more difficult as the workforce starts to become more depleted,” Professor Bell said, according to the newspaper.
In the event of powercuts, UK Power Networks has said that they will take precautions when visiting people’s homes, including wearing “antiviral masks, coveralls, overshoes and gloves, and all will be disposed of after single use”.
The newspaper reports that energy companies have put into effect emergency strategies during the lockdown and have postponed non-essential maintenance. Many are also affected by staff sickness. SP Energy Networks, which operates in Scotland, the North West of England, and North Wales, has said that staff sickness coupled with the current lockdown could be putting their grids at risk.
The company’s CEO Frank Mitchell said in a statement that it had put in place “special measures to protect power supply for critical national infrastructure and public service sites; including hospitals, nursing homes, food supply chain businesses, Ministry of Defence sites and prisons”.
During the lockdown, there has also been a surge in internet and mobile phone usage as Britons work from home. While in the European Union, the Commission has reached agreements with Amazon Prime, Youtube, and Netflix to reduce their streaming speeds with the continent’s telecommunications networks likewise overloaded during various European countries’ lockdowns.
Aware of the strain being put on Britons during the quarantine, the UK’s main internet providers have agreed to remove data caps for their fixed-line customers for the duration of the crisis, whilst Vodaphone has automatically upgraded 500,000 of their vulnerable customers to free, unlimited mobile data to keep people connected.