Winter is just around the corner and Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks) is reminding everyone to be winter wise if electricity supplies are interrupted due to poor weather in the coming months.
During the last year, NIE Networks has upgraded and carried out maintenance to the electricity network to substantially reduce the number and length of disruptions and ensure customers have a safe and reliable electricity supply. However, storms, third party damage and other events can still affect your supply.
“At NIE Networks we work 24 hours a day to ensure that if there is a power cut, it is resolved as quickly as possible and we keep you updated with progress,” says David Keys, Customer Service Manager at NIE Networks. “Severe weather can damage the network and cause power cuts, which is why we have been working hard over the past year investing and preparing for this winter. We work closely with the Met Office to get the latest weather information and when we receive a severe weather warning, we mobilise staff and resources to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.
“Through the years, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge responding to storm damage and in many ways we are now at the forefront of electricity companies in managing the process of restoring supplies following a major incident.
“It is difficult to make any network completely secure, especially one that serves such a largely rural and dispersed population. We endeavour to make the network more resilient to storm damage by investing in the network during the year, extending our tree maintenance programmes and installing technology to help us restore supplies more quickly. We understand that any loss of electricity supplies can be frustrating and an unpleasant experience so we are asking customers to think about what they’d do if they had a power cut this winter. Simple things like making sure there are batteries in a torch and making a note of our telephone number can help minimise the impact of a power cut.”
Here are our top tips to help you prepare in case your supply is affected:
Do you know where your household fuses and trip switches are? Know where they are so as you can check if there is a problem with your own electrics.
Keep a supply of batteries for radios, torches and candles in the house.
Customers dependent on electrical equipment for healthcare should join our Critical Care Register. This priority service ensures that Critical Care customers can obtain up-to-date information if their power is lost.
Vulnerable customers, in conjunction with their healthcare advisors if appropriate, should consider how they would cope with a prolonged loss of electricity supplies and prepare a personal action plan.
If your electricity goes off:
Customers should first check their household trip switch and fuses.
We need to know – use your smart phone to report your power cut online at nienetworks.co.uk or contact us via our customer helpline 03457 643 643. In the event of a widespread loss of electricity supplies you may make contact with a call handler, or more likely receive NIE Networks’ automated service where you can leave details of the premises affected by the interruption and receive a message providing the latest information available. The automated system will pass your details through to our fault management team.
Always think about your safety and the safety of others and never approach broken lines or damaged poles. Keep children and animals away.
Ensure electric cookers and heaters are switched off, but leave a light on so you know when the power is restored.
Listen to the radio for information bulletins, check our website and follow us @NIElectricity for the latest updates.
Take care if using candles or other naked flames.
If you are using a generator be careful where you site it in case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours or relatives.
David adds: “We are always striving to find new methods of communicating with our customers during a power cut and have developed an easy to use, online system for customers to report their power cut via their internet enabled mobile. In the coming months we will also be launching PowerCheck – a new site we are developing to give customers more information about planned interruptions and faults in their area.
“Customers can also follow us on Twitter @NIElectricity for the latest information and for helpful hints on how to prepare for any powercuts the winter may cause.”