A power cut in Soho, London, in November 2016 Credit: Alamy Live News
HOUSEHOLDS are being told to keep torches and warm clothing nearby in case of blackouts during the coronavirus lockdown.
The report comes as energy companies in the UK put a pause on non-essential work, in line with the latest government advice.
In a letter to addressed to their customers, seen by The Daily Telegraph, UK Power Networks is advising households on how to stay warm in the event of a blackout.
They advised keeping “a torch handy” as well as dressing warmly in several layers, including a hat, gloves and blanket in the event heating stopped functioning in their homes.
Households are also told to keep doors closed in unused rooms to help combat excessive heat loss inside.
The letter adds: “It’s especially important to keep warm if you are unwell, less mobile or very young.”
UK Power Networks, manages and owns the essential electricity cables to around three million homes in the South East, the East of England and London, has written to homes on its vulnerable register.
This includes pensioners, those with children under five in the house, and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
It’s likely to be concerning news for households who’ve stocked up on frozen food in recent weeks during the coronavirus epidemic.
On its website, UK Power Networks says it’s continuing all essential work, including fixing electrical faults to combat blackouts.
But it’s postponing lower priority work on electricity cables and substations.
Ofgem, the Government regulator for gas and electricity markets, has outlined essential work as maintaining heating and electricity in homes and keeping power in crucial institutions like the NHS.
A spokesperson for UK Power Networks has said: “We regularly contact customers on our Priority Services Register, to ensure we meet their needs and it’s never more important than in the current circumstances.
“This is to ensure we continue to provide them with the best possible support.”
David Smith, chief executive of Energy Networks Association, said customers should be reassured that the network is currently operating precisely as it should.
He said: “We have one of the most reliable electricity networks in the world, supported by stringent contingency plans and a workforce of 36,000 people.
“We’re keeping your energy flowing during the coronavirus pandemic, and the network is operating exactly as it should.”
Electricity Northwest and Western Power Distribution also say they are prepared to deal with blackouts, although they are currently only carrying out essential work.
The update from energy providers comes after it was announced that millions of families are set to get a pause on their energy bills if they’re struggling financially.
Companies who’ve already offered extra help include British Gas and EDF Energy.
If you’re on a prepayment meter and in self-isolation, some providers are also posting out preloaded keys and cards with credit to homes by post.