As winter approaches, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) is issuing a reminder to customers in the Mid-Antrim area on how to cope if their electricity supplies are interrupted.
Since privatisation in 1993 NIE has invested over £1 billion in improvements to the electricity network. This has substantially reduced the number and length of disruptions. However, storms, vandalism, third party damage and other events can still affect your supply.
David Keys, Customer Relations Manager at NIE says: “Our significant recent investments in upgrading and maintaining the electricity network mean a greater security of supply for customers. Knowledge gained from responding to previous storm damage means that we are now at the forefront of electricity companies in managing the process of restoring supplies following a major incident.
“However, it is impossible to make any network completely secure, especially one that serves such a largely rural and dispersed population. We understand that any loss of electricity supplies can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience so we are urging customers to make an annual check to ensure that they are able to minimise the impact of a power cut.”
Be prepared: Know where your household fuses and trip switches are; Keep a supply of batteries for radios, torches and candles in the house. Customers dependent on electrical equipment for healthcare should join NIE’s Critical Care Register. This priority service ensures that Critical Care customers can obtain up-to-date information if there is a power cut. Vulnerable customers in conjunction with their healthcare advisors, if appropriate, should consider how they would cope with a prolonged loss of power and prepare a personal action plan.
If your electricity goes off: Customers should first check their household trip switch and fuses; Contact NIE’s Customer Helpline on 08457 643 643 and have your postcode or Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) available. You will find your MPRN on the card your meter reader leaves or on your electricity bill. In the event of a widespread power cut if you telephone NIE you may speak with a call handler, or more likely receive NIE’s automated service where you can leave details of the premises affected by the interruption and receive a message providing the latest information available.
Put safety first: Never approach broken lines or damaged poles, and keep children and animals away. Ensure electric cookers and heaters are switched off, but leave a light on so you know when the power is restored; Take care if using candles or other naked flames; If you are using a generator, be careful where you site it in case of carbon monoxide poisoning; Listen to the radio for information bulletins; Check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours or relatives;
Keep your freezer door closed and cover with a blanket, helping to keep it cold.
David Keys adds: “If you telephone NIE and receive a recorded message, please listen carefully. If you are calling to report a hazardous or life threatening situation your call will be given priority; do not misuse this facility as it may cause delays in our response to genuine emergencies. Customers should be aware that it will take us some time to investigate the cause of a fault following damage to the network and detailed information will not be immediately available.
“The automated system will pass your details through to our fault management team and, whether it is an individual fault or widespread damage following severe weather, you can be assured that we will be doing everything possible to restore supplies as soon as possible.”
For further information, check NIE’s website www.nie.co.uk.