accessibility & help

Don’t get left in the dark this winter

24 October 2014

Winter’s a time for snowmen, hot toddies, woolly scarfs – and sudden power-cuts. Make sure you don’t get caught out this year.

When the lights suddenly went out in south east England last winter, thousands of people were plunged into darkness – and life quickly became difficult for many of them.

The savage weather brought down scores of pylons, cutting off power to more than 27,000 households for up to five days.

Our volunteers were right in the thick of things, helping vulnerable pensioners, frightened children, fraught families (and more than a few new mums).

But there was one constant theme that kept surprising our volunteers over and again –  the huge numbers of people who had literally nothing in their homes that could be of use.

Dazed and confused

This was a big problem. Many, many households realised too late that they didn’t have a single flashlight in the place.

Some had candles, but of course – when everyone’s shuffling around in the dark – naked flames are a big risk.

And inevitably, all the shelves of the local shops were emptied within a few hours.

The absence of a few basic products – a decent torch, tinned food, a battery radio – took a heavy toll on thousands of families. Unsure of what exactly had happened and when it would be fixed, they were left in the dark in every sense. It was a pretty miserable time.

And rest assured, many residents were left kicking themselves (or would have if they’d been able to see well enough), because just a few simple steps would have seen them much better prepared to cope.

Be prepared

The fact is: power cuts happen.

Last year, the energy companies worked round the clock to fix things, but if the weather’s bad enough nothing’s going to stop nature taking its course. The best you can do is be well prepared.

Which brings us to this year. The British Red Cross has just launched its Ready for Winter campaign, which provides a flurry of simple and easy-to-follow advice for coping with severe weather.

Our big aim for this year is to help people avoid the same muddle that beset thousands last year.

If we can persuade you to take a few simple steps to keep yourself safe this winter, we’ll all be a lot happier.

Another important point is to make sure you look out for vulnerable and older neighbours, who really can struggle in winter, and especially during a power cut

Check out our Ready for Winter advice.

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