Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Power cut preparations

Power cut

Photo: iStock

Ireland’s weather has been quite turbulent of late, with storms Ophelia and Brian battering the country with wind and rain over the past week or two.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the country lost power as a result, almost a week in certain cases, though the response from the ESB in getting households and businesses back up and running has to be commended.

However, given that Irish households may well face further dark days and nights thanks to stormy weather expected in this part of the world in the coming months, we’ve got some tips on how you can prepare for a power cut ahead of time without breaking the bank or skimping on the essentials.

Power up in advance

If you’re not a bookworm and you don’t fancy the thought of sitting around for days in darkness with nothing to occupy your time, invest in several power banks for your electronic devices.

Be careful, as cheap isn’t always best. Check out PC Mag UK for their round-up of the best options, and compare prices on to get the best deal.

Light the way

Evenings and nights are never fun when the power is gone, and that’s often when the penny drops as to how dependent on electricity we really are.

Candles are an old reliable and won’t cost the earth in most shops, though be careful where you place them, don’t leave them unattended, and make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Torches can provide quite a bit more illumination – invest in a wind-up version and you won’t have to worry about batteries (they’re also quite handy as part of your car’s emergency kit). Pop into your local hardware store for some advice or check out The Bug Out Bag Guide for a comprehensive guide to emergency lighting options.

Warm up

With the power gone, your heat source is likely out of action too. Keep the heat in your house for as long as possible by closing your curtains or blinds (helps prevent heat escaping through the windows), close off any unused rooms, and block draughts underneath your doors using blankets or clothing. Before the storm starts, fill up one or more thermos flasks with hot water to make hot drinks. Avoid using items like camping stoves to generate heat (or cook your dinner) indoors as they can release poisonous carbon monoxide.

If you’ve got a fireplace, make sure the chimney is clear of any obstructions and that you have a fireguard. Invest in a few decent sized dry logs beforehand – you could also save a stack of old newspapers and magazines to be used as fuel (or insulation). Layering your clothing will also help prevent heat from escaping your body, and if you’ve got a treadmill, stationary bike or even a stairs, 10 or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise should warm you up nicely.

Food storage

If you know or suspect there’s a power outage on the way, turn your fridge and freezer settings up to keep their contents cooler for longer. Generally speaking, a fridge will stay cool for about four hours without power, and up to 2 days for a freezer (full freezers stay colder for longer). Avoid opening the doors unless absolutely necessary.

Pull together

Talk to your neighbours before a storm and pool your resources – you might be in luck and discover somebody has access to a generator.

And don’t forget to download the free ESB PowerCheck app for Android and iOS – handy to keep abreast of when the lights are due to return!

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.