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Electrical Blackout

Electrical blackouts are usually short-lived.  Longer blackouts cause bigger problems during cold weather.

    • Keep at home in a safe location:
      • A flashlight and spare batteries
      • Candles, a lighter or matches, a fondue burner and the recommended fuel
      • A battery-powered radio
    • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, keep some fuel on hand. Install a carbon monoxide detector and check its operation regularly.
    • Listen to the news on the radio.
    • Keep your thermostats low.
    • Unplug all electric and electronic appliances, except one lamp on each floor, to avoid an overvoltage when the current returns.
    • Do not pointlessly open the refrigerator or freezer door. This will conserve your food for 24 to 48 hours without spoiling.
    • Unless otherwise instructed, allow a small trickle of water to run from your taps and flush the toilets a few times a day to avoid freezing your pipes.
    • If you have a backup heating system, light it before your home gets too cold.


    Inside, never use heating or lighting devices or stoves designed for outdoors or for camping, such as charcoal or propane barbecues, camp heaters or propane stoves. In addition to increasing the risk of fire, these devices give off carbon monoxide, an odourless, colourless but fatal gas.

    If you use a generator

    • It must be connected to a permanent electric circuit by a certified electrician.
    • Close the main circuit breaker before connecting the generator.
    • Put the generator outside, away from the windows and doors, on a raised platform, not on the ground, and shelter it from the weather.
    • Make sure the cables do not touch water and that the battery clamps are attached to the fuse box terminals. If in doubt, check with your supplier and do a test run before a blackout.
    • Make sure the exhaust gas does not enter your home through a window or vent.
    • Comply with the power capacity of the device.
    • Turn off the generator and let it cool down before refuelling.

    If the blackout continues

    • Leave your home if it gets too cold. If you do not know where to go, contact us to find out whether a shelter has been set up.
    • Before leaving:
      • Turn off the water and empty the pipes. Put antifreeze in the toilets and sink drains.
      • Turn off the main electric and gas supply.
      • Wait for authorization from the authorities before you return home.
    • Make sure your water heater is full before you turn the electricity back on.
    • Re-establish the electric current by flipping the main breaker.
    • Turn on the water and all the taps to get the air out.
    • Do not turn on the gas yourself; get a specialist to do it.
    • Check whether the food in your fridge and freezer is still fresh.
      • Throw away perishables (dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc.) in the fridge for a blackout that lasts six hours or more.
      • Throw away all perishables (dairy products, heat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc.) in the freezer that were exposed to a temperature above 4ºC.
      • Throw away food that shows signs of deterioration, such as mould or bad odours.
      • Never refreeze thawed foods. Partially thawed foods (presence of frost on the surface of the packaging) can be returned to the freezer if the centre of the item is still hard.

    Most home insurance contracts provide special coverage for the loss of food in the freezer.

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