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Power outages and energy safety

This outlines what to do during and after a power outage. It also explains what to check if you had to leave your home during an emergency such as a fire or flood.

If your home loses power

Locate your electricity box outside your home and check whether the safety switch has tripped. If it has tripped, reset the switch. If the switch won’t reset, call a licensed electrician.

  • Switch off appliances – they could start a fire if the power returns when no one is around.
  • Shut down your solar PV system using the safe isolation procedure.
  • Use safe alternative lighting such as a torch or a battery-operated lantern.
  • Don’t try to solve any electrical issues or do repairs yourself. It is unsafe and illegal.
  • Always engage a licensed electrician to do electrical work. Be sure to get a Certificate of Electrical Safety when the work is done.

Generator safety

Always take care when using generators. They can cause electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning, asphyxiation and fires when not used correctly.

  • Never use a portable generator indoors or in enclosed areas including garages and tents. They release carbon monoxide that can’t be seen or smelt.
  • Keep the generator:
    • out of dry grass to prevent the exhaust igniting the grass
    • away from rain or wet conditions.
  • Thoroughly dry your hands before touching the generator.
  • Only use heavy-duty extension cords designed for outdoor use. Make sure they are in good condition and rated in watts or amps at least equal to all the connected appliance loads.
  • Never modify an extension cord to plug in to household wiring.
  • Never try to power the house by plugging the generator into a wall socket or connecting it to the switchboard. This can risk the safety of utility workers and neighbours connected to the same network.
  • Ensure fuel is stored in proper safety containers and away from ignition sources.
  • Before refuelling, turn off the generator and allow it to cool down.

Restoring power

Restoring power is the responsibility of the electricity supply company which owns and maintains the poles and wires bringing power to your home.

The time it takes may depend on factors such the cause of the outage (for example, a storm, fire or flood), weather conditions and access to the area.

Contact your electricity supply company

  • Citipower 13 12 80
  • Powercor 13 24 12
  • AusNet Services 13 17 99
  • Jemena 13 16 26
  • United Energy 13 20 99

If you're unsure which supply company you use, see Find your energy distributor (Energy Victoria).

After a power outage

Flickering lights

If you have dull or flickering lights, 'brown out', low voltage or partial supply:

  • do not touch your switchboard or anything metal in your home
  • turn off any power points that are easy to access and unplug appliances
  • call your electricity distribution business immediately.

Electric shocks

  • If you experience tingles or shocks from an electrical appliance or water taps, call your electricity company immediately. A licensed electrician must check the property’s wiring.

Returning to your home after an emergency

If you had to leave your property during an emergency, you’ll need to do some safety checks and follow the steps below when you return home.

Electricity

  • Carefully check for damage to any electrical cables, wiring or other electrical equipment. If you identify any issues:
    • do not turn on the power
    • do not touch the damaged equipment or cable
    • call a licensed electrician to make it safe.
  • Follow these steps to safely turn the power back on at your property:
    • Unplug or turn off all electrical appliances and equipment before switching the power back on. This includes circuit breakers, RCDs (or 'safety switches') or other switches on your switchboard.
    • Turn on the main power switch.
    • Turn on each circuit breaker one at a time.
    • If you have an RCD, press and hold the test button for 5 seconds. This will turn the power off. The RCD must operate immediately on pressing the test button.
    • Reset the RCD and press the test button a second time. If the RCD operates correctly and turns off the power, reset it and you can begin switching on electrical equipment.
    • If the RCD fails the testing, turn it off and get it replaced by a licensed electrician.
  • If there are problems such as fuses blowing or circuit breakers and safety switches turning off, contact a licensed electrician.
  • If there are fallen or broken powerlines, stay at least 8 to 10 metres away from them. You are at risk of electrocution if you get too close.

Checking your solar system

Solar panels can produce energy during daylight hours. This means they can be a potential safety risk even if the power has been turned off.

  • Do not go near any equipment or cables if you see any damage to your solar system or battery or have concerns about them. Call a licensed electrician to make the system safe.

Solar batteries

  • Do not switch on a solar battery if it has been damaged in any way. Call a licensed electrician to check your battery system.
  • You should treat a battery system as live until it has been inspected.

More information

Energy Safe’s technical enquiry line is available to electricians and gas fitters: 1800 652 563.

Date: 18/07/2024 15:18

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The currency and accuracy of this document cannot be guaranteed once printed or saved to a storage device. If in doubt, please check the ESV website for the current version.

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