High wind speeds, heavy rain or snow, and lightning can all bring about unique challenges. Suddenly losing power is one common effect, as extreme weather can cause damage to the power lines. You may also experience local flooding, fallen trees, and even damage to your property. All of which could temporarily interrupt your energy supply.
To help you stay safe in a storm we have prepared some guidance on actions you can take to protect your family and home. Always remember, in the event of a weather warning, follow the advice of the emergency services and your local authorities.
Ways to prepare for stormy weather.
Prepare for the risk of storms by planning ahead. Try to get hold of any precautionary materials before storm warnings appear.
Make sure you have a torch, plus extra batteries, in case you lose power.
It may feel unnecessary now that many of us have torches on our smartphones, but your phone may not be at full charge during the storm and you will be unable to recharge it if the battery life is drained. You might need your phone to send and receive important storm information, using the torch function will drain the phone's battery.
Keep food and water available.
Try to keep food on hand that won’t need cooking, as many ovens and other appliances are electric and won’t work during a power cut. In some circumstances your water supply may be flooded by a storm, affecting the water quality. So, it can be helpful to fill a large bottle of water for drinking.
Prepare your car with an emergency kit.
It is never advisable to go out during a storm, but you may get caught off guard whilst travelling, so it is wise to keep some essentials in your car. Drinking water, long-life snacks, and a blanket or extra coat will help you stay warm and keep your energy up. Leaving a torch and a spare phone charger in the car will enable you to call for help and make you easier to find in the dark. You may also want to consider adding a tow rope and jump leads in case you or a fellow vehicle need assistance once the storm has passed.
Consider insuring your home if it is at risk of flooding.
Flooding can cause significant permanent damage to your home that can take time and money to repair. If your home is at risk of flooding, it may be beneficial to look into getting flood cover as part of your home insurance. You can get affordable flood cover from Flood Re, as part of a joint initiative between insurers and the government to protect high risk households.
What to do if there is a severe weather warning.
If there's a severe weather warning in your area, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your home before the storm hits.
Stay at home.
Your safety is the greatest priority. You should avoid travelling and stay at home. If you choose to travel ahead of a severe weather warning make sure you plan alternate routes to get home safely in case of disruption, and leave enough time to make it home before the storm is forecast. If the storm hits whilst you are out, take shelter indoors where possible. This could be at your workplace, with friends or family who live nearby, or inside a service station if you are on the road.
Keep pets indoors.
Flying debris and flooding both pose a serious risk to the health of our animals. If possible, move any outdoor pets inside or into a sheltered area. Try to secure outdoor pet enclosures in the same way as other outdoor items (see point 3). Once indoors, it may help to keep your pets in a room that is insulated against the noise from outside to help them remain calm.
Secure outdoor items, such as bins, garden furniture, and sports equipment.
The best action you can take is to move them into a protected area – this could be a garage, shed, or porch. You could also bring them inside your home. If this is not possible, try to secure them by moving all items against the walls of your home and laying them flat on the ground. Putting a heavy item inside lighter items like your bins can also help reduce the risk of being picked up by the wind. Trampolines in particular can cause serious damage if picked up by strong winds. Many come with their own anchoring kit, or they can be bought separately, to prevent them from flying away and causing damage.
Move your car into a garage.
This will prevent it from being damaged by debris during the storm. If you do not own a garage, try to find parking in a protected area and avoid stopping by trees or unsecured objects that could cause damage.
What to do if there is a flood alert.
Flood alerts can occur as the result of storms, and they mean you should take action to prepare for flooding. If you receive a flood alert for your area you can take these steps to help stay safe.
Prepare a waterproof bag.
This should include your insurance documents, a first-aid kit that includes any personal medication (such as epi-pens and inhalers), a change of clothes, plus a torch, phone and phone charger. Include baby care items for infants. It is important all your items are kept in a waterproof bag that can be fully sealed. This will ensure your essentials are protected from water damage in case you need to evacuate.
Sign up for flood alerts.
Stay up to date on the flood risk and look out for the announcement of a flood warning in your area. You can sign-up for free government flood alerts by call, text, or email.
Make a plan on how to get your family and pets to safety without putting yourselves or others at risk. This might mean arranging to stay with friends or family, or at a local community shelter. Prepare your vehicle so you are ready to leave immediately if necessary. Stay up to date with traffic information to ensure your route is clear, and plan an alternative in case of disruption.
BBC Local Radio is a good source of information during times of crisis, so have a battery powered radio to hand and make sure your phone is charged.
Learn how to safely turn off the water, gas and electricity in your home.
Flood water could cause damage to your water and gas pipes or electrical wiring. Turning off the supply into your home will prevent dangerous gas leaks, additional water damage, and risk of harm from live wires. Every house is different, so you will need to contact your utility suppliers to advise you on how to safely switch off at your home. Never attempt to touch an electrical switch if you are standing in water.
Flood alerts are the first level of warning for flooding. If you have a flood warning (second level) for your area you must take immediate actions to stay safe - this includes getting you and your family to safety by following your prepared plan and immediately turning off your water, gas, and electricity supply if it is safe to do so.
In the event of a severe flood warning (third level) then there is risk to life and you should follow the advice of the emergency services. Remember to call 999 if anyone is in immediate danger.
For more information, read the government advice on what to do in a flood, where you can find out more about the actions you can take for each level of flood warning.
Understanding the different levels of weather warnings.
There are three levels of weather warnings that can be issued by the Met Office using the National Severe Weather Warning Service. The level is based on the likelihood of the weather occurring and on the level of impact the weather will cause.
– Often yellow warnings are assumed to be low impact weather that will cause minimal disruption to daily routines. However, they may also be issued if a high impact weather event is deemed to be unlikely but possible. Therefore, it is always worth checking the details of a yellow weather warning.
– Amber warnings mean there is likely to be significant disruption, particularly to travel, and a potential risk to life and property. You may want to consider altering your plans and taking action to protect your home and family.
– The highest level of warning, a red warning means dangerous weather that poses a significant risk to life and property. Travel and energy supplies are likely to be severely disrupted. You should try to avoid travel and follow the advice of your local authorities and the emergency services.
Find out more about how to report an energy emergency and stay safe whatever the weather.
Do you need help?
At E.ON Next we want to help customers find the support they need in the event of power outages. The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free support service for eligible people who may be vulnerable. If you are on the PSR we will prioritise reconnecting you in the event of unexpected power outages.
If you require a continuous supply of electricity for medical reasons, seek medical advice from your local health service provider or by calling 111.