How likely is a prolonged power blackout?
A supply collapse also called a "blackout", is a large-scale prolonged power failure affecting a large number of people at the same time. Not only are households affected, but also businesses, hospitals, schools and all other electricity recipients.
So-called "blackouts" are particularly caused by bad weather conditions such as storms, thunderstorms or even heavy snowfall: power or high-voltage lines if damaged or destroyed. The result is a prolonged and widespread power blackout. But excess consumption of power at certain points can also lead to a power blackout: for example if lots of households are using fans or electric heaters to save gas in the current situation.
An hourly crisis with the electricity system in the winter of 2022/23 is very unlikely, but cannot be completely ruled out at present.
Source and further information:
What effects would a prolonged power blackout have on Erlangen?
- Household: Many important household appliances will no longer work: fridges and freezers, ovens and cookers. Additionally, use of the lights, central heating and hot water will not be possible. Even the drinking water supply is only guaranteed to a limited extent. In this case, it is extremely important to reduce water consumption. Restrictions in sewage disposal are also to be expected.
- Communication: Telephones, televisions and the internet will no longer work, and mobile phone networks will only work until the networks become overloaded with users.
- Supply: Supermarkets and petrol stations will be closed or severely restricted. Cashless payment will not work.
Government and municipal agencies cannot replace private preparedness and neighbourly help in the event of a power outage. In particular, it is essential to have an emergency supply at home.
How can I distinguish a "normal" power failure from a major power failure?
If the light is off or the refrigerator no longer works, then there does not necessarily have to be the main fault. A power failure can also have other causes.
If the power has only gone out in your flat, you should check the fuse box and switch on the blown fuses or RCDs again. But be careful: before doing so, check the appliances that were in operation when the fuse tripped to see if you can detect any damage, such as defective cables. Switch on one appliance after the other, so you can find out which appliance is defective and caused the power failure. If you cannot find the cause of the failure, then have the house installation checked by a qualified electrician. The repair of electrical appliances also belongs in expert hands.
If the neighbours or neighbouring flats and houses also have no electricity, it does not necessarily have to be a widespread power failure. In the case of localised power cuts, the public utility company will take care of the repair (phone 09131 823-3333).
What do I do in the event of a power outage?
Keep calm! Check whether the cause of the power failure is possible in your house.
- Most power cuts in Germany are localised and quickly resolved. Disconnect all plugged-in devices from the mains to avoid overloading the mains when the power supply is restored.
- If it is a major, area-wide outage, the radio will provide information.
- Be careful with candles. Barbecues, open fires or gas cookers do not belong indoors and pose a great risk of fire or suffocation.
- Help people who may need assistance, for example, people with a disability, minors, people living alone or people who cannot understand important information well.
How do I receive information during a prolonged power outage?
Our usual sources of information (internet, television etc) will be disrupted during a widespread power blackout. To receive information, you should have a battery-powered radio (ideally supplemented with a solar cell or crank) at home. If necessary, the car radio can also be used. Depending on the situation, the city may also provide information via mobile loudspeaker vehicles. In addition, you will be able to go to contact points in the city districts to get information or also to make emergency calls.
Where can I turn to in an emergency in the event of a widespread power blackout?
In the city districts, there will be contact points for citizens where they can make emergency calls in medical emergencies or also receive further information on the current situation.
How is the city of Erlangen preparing for a prolonged power blackout?
The city administration's Office for Fire and Disaster Prevention regularly conducts disaster prevention exercises and develops plans for major emergencies. Since the summer of 2022, an "energy shortage" crisis team has also been meeting regularly.
The concept also includes contact points for citizens in the city districts, where they can make emergency calls in medical emergencies or receive information (see the previous question).
The university hospital will be supplied with emergency power and can continue to operate on a limited basis.
What can each individual do to prepare for a prolonged blackout?
In addition to a certain supply of household and food items (see separate question), you should always have a certain amount of cash at home. In the event of a power failure, ATMs and cashless payments will no longer work. A battery-powered radio (or crank radio) will be needed to follow messages from the authorities. Solar-powered battery chargers or power banks can be of help in the event of a power cut. Reach out to people in your neighbourhood today who might need help. For example, blind, walking or visually impaired or individuals who live alone. If you need support yourself, don't be afraid to approach neighbours or acquaintances directly.
Further helpful tips - for example on lighting and heating - can be found at the following link.
Food stock: Why, which and how many should you have at home?
Not only for a power outage but also in the event of a severe thunderstorm, flooding, extreme heat or heavy snowfall and icy conditions, a stockpile can be helpful because you may not be able to or should not leave your home and planned purchases will have to wait. The same applies if you should take it easy and stay in bed due to an acute illness.
Important documents at hand?
Sometimes things have to happen very quickly: if your home has to be evacuated, for example, because a flood is imminent or a world war bomb has to be defused. Or you have to leave your home quickly because there is a fire. Then you should be able to pack your important documents in one go and take them with you so that they are not destroyed.
These include, for example, family documents, savings books or securities, certificates or a will. A detailed list can be found under the following link.