Blackouts may sound like talk from wartime Britain, with images of people cowering in shelters during the Blitz.
But the possibility has returned to the public consciousness in recent months as the price of energy skyrockets amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While new Prime Minister Liz Truss has ruled out enforced blackouts in a bid to save energy, if the grid goes down, households will be left without power. And the government is planning for such an eventuality as the crisis continues.
So, in the event of a total power failure, how could you best ‘survive’?
Advice for households on 'surviving' a power cut
Protection experts A-Plan Insurance have issued some advice for households preparing for a possible power cut.
Their list of essentials for your home in the event of a blackout, range from the obvious to the obscure.
Things you may have considered include ensuring you have packs of pillar candles and matches, hand heat packs and hats, stocks of cupboard items you can cook on the hob or eat cold and don't need refrigerating, torches and replaceable batteries and a mobile phone power bank for emergency charging.
Other advice includes having a plastic tub to store all your bits and bobs so you know where it all is in the dark, a car-operated kettle if you don’t have a gas hob, a battery-operated radio to listen to news reports and a home generator, although this could set you back around £300.
An easy to reach First Aid kit is also essential, they say.
How to avoid a power cut disaster
The experts also gave some simple actions each household can take if the worst-case scenario does materialise and you are left without power.
• Switch of all electrical appliances – this helps to prevent a surge (and therefore another power cut) when everything comes back on at the same time.
• If you don’t have streetlights, leave one light on in the room that you are most likely to stay in, so that you can easily spot when the power returns.
• Keep your fridge and freezer doors shut – your fridge will stay cold for around four hours, and your freezer a few days. You can also insulate your fridge using blankets or a sleeping bag to keep it cold for longer.
If you choose to run your fridge off a generator, ensure you choose the right starting and running watts depending on the size of your fridge. There are plenty of online resources available to guide you on which one to choose.
Who to contact in the event of a power cut
UK consumers are advised to call ‘105’ which is a new, free national phone line for power cuts.
Most people call their energy supplier in a power cut, who are unable to help – you actually need to speak to your Local Distribution Company (LDC), and 105 will put you straight through to them.
How long do power cuts typically last?
The average power cut in the UK is under an hour, however, under the government’s “reasonable worst-case scenario” that time could be exceeded.
Can I get compensation from a power cut?
If an outage is planned, your distributor should give you at least two days’ notice – if they haven’t advised you of a planned outage, then you can claim £30 within 30 days of the outage.
If the cut is unplanned, compensation will very much depend on the cause of the outage and how many homes were affected.
Generally speaking, an outage lasting 24 hours is compensated at around £70, but this depends on the circumstances. If you feel that you can make a claim, you should. Again, you will need to contact your local distributor (LDC), not your energy provider.
Do power cuts affect electricity bills?
If you experience a power cut, in addition to the compensation from your LDC you may be entitled to, which is payable within 10 days, if you submit monthly readings for your energy bills, you may also see a small decrease in usage. However this is likely to be a very small decrease, depending on the length of time you are without power.
As a general rule, if you pay by direct debit and are in credit, you are entitled to request a refund, however it is likely any credit will be swallowed by the ongoing price hike.