Failure of National Electricity


Have you ever sat back and thought about how many of life’s every day appliances rely on electricity? If you look around your home, office or even the phone in your hand it’s amazing how much we have moved on in the last 50 years and our dependency on electricity.  If we can all reduce our energy consumption not only, will it reduce our personal bills it will help us as a community. We will not be demanding so much power from the power companies and helping our resilience overall. 

Without our electricity we lose the ability to heat our homes as the gas will go off and the water may slowly stop from our taps. This information is about helping you help yourself and build a small non expensive list of things that will help you in a power outage feel more comfortable and less vulnerable to what’s happening around you. This becomes your own form of Resilience. 

Interesting Facts

  • LED light bulbs use about one -sixth of the electricity that conventional bulbs do, cost about a quarter as much to use, and last about forty times longer. 
  • A typical microwave oven consumes more electricity powering the digital clock than it does on heating the food. 
  • Appliances also use electricity when they are on standby. The average desktop computer idles at 80 watts, while an average laptop idles at 20 watts. A Sony PlayStation uses about 200 watts both when its active and when its idle.
  • Saving energy at home: | Friends of the Earth

Local Risk Rating

Failure of National Electricity is assessed as Very High risk on our Community Risk Register. Take a look at the table shown in What is Risk? to understand why.

  • Impact: Catastrophic (5)
  • Likelihood: Medium (3)
  • Rating: Very High

What is it?

There could be several reasons why we don’t have electricity: - 

  • There could be a local fault in the power network that may be affecting you and your neighbours. This could be in a close vicinity too you and we have all experienced these power outages. 
  • Something may occur more wider spread, such as storms and adverse weather conditions. This can affect larger areas and we can often see the level of impact when watching the weather on the TV. We see the high winds and the devastation, but we don’t always see the homes without power and the affects. In many cases this can be caused by trees coming down in the high winds and taking out power cables. Rural areas are very susceptible to this. 
  • Flooding and excess rain., prolonged heavy rainfall can cause flooding, this in turn can surround power sub stations and threaten the production of the power. This removes a part of the network and put stresses on other areas.
  • Lastly let’s not forget that electric powers our gas supply and our water production. Electricity is the source for our other Utilities to operate. 

Impacts of losing our electricity 

People who are vulnerable are no longer independent when their power goes off. They can’t pop their kettle on for a cup of tea and may be unable to keep themselves warm as the heating may  stop. 

  • Health – many people in our society are dependent on power for health reasons they may be on breathing apparatus that is run by electricity or dialysis machines. Without these machines many vulnerable people would be impacted and may result in hospitalisation. 
  • Our emergency services, our hero’s with a blue light, Fire, Police and Ambulance to name a few. Would have difficulties maintaining their existing level of service without power. 
  • Health Service – hospitals are a priority. Without a continued service of power, the service we take for granted to happen every day would be stopped and services interrupted until power is resumed, 
  • Care homes – welfare and care, this is essential for residents for example heating goes off and many care homes have special beds that require power. Without these the comfort of residents can be jeopardised.
  • Schools & Education – the welfare of students is primary and when the electricity goes off so does the heating and water. So, schools and colleges must close. 
  • This list is not exhaustive and I’m sure you can think of many more areas of our society that are impacted by the loss of power. Much like water or gas it is an essential service for us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   
Article continues below

Related News

Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared Resilience Event

Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared Resilience Event

Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared First ever Resilience Event - helping to make our communities more prepared


The images below show the destruction of Storms which are becoming more frequent with the impact of climate change. The more recent photo on the left being of Storm Eunice and the left-hand side image of the great 1987 storm.  With both of these storms the causes were not just structural, but they also affected our power lines.  

Flying debris and falling trees can break power cables and severely impact the power network.

What are we doing about it in the LRF?

We have a Wiltshire and Swindon Widespread Utilities Plan and a Local & National Power Outage Plan. All our partners in the LRF have their local plans in place that are specific to their service or business. These detail the process and what they would do in a power outage.  

What can you do?

There’s a number of things you could do, these include:

  • Be prepared have the telephone number of you power provider easy to hand so you can make that call. All Utilities have a 24-hour operation call line. 
    Look at your local Utility providers website, these are the companies that provide your water, gas and electric.   It’s much easier to take these new things in when we are not impacted.  You will be able to search on your post code and see if there is anything going on in your area. 
  • Notifications will show on the website of what is going on in your area. 
  • A handheld wind up torch is inexpensive and during a dark winter night gives you confidence to move around your home. 
  • Keep blankets, warm jumpers, and warm clothes easy to hand.   Remember your heating may go off and we quite often have winter storms when we have our heating on. 
  • If the power outage is prolonged, then a wind up radio is also a good purchase.  Often these have a point where you can plug your mobile phone in to keep the battery topped up. 
  • Remember the people around you in your community, its worth checking on neighbours to see how they are and if they are having any difficulties. 


Failure of the Electricity Network Risk

Failure of the Electricity Network Risk

LRF in Action

Read More Stories
Power Outage Planning and National Exercises

Power Outage Planning and National Exercises

Our chance to test Power Outage Scenarios on a big scale with over 200 people involved!

Exercise Inundation

Exercise Inundation

Its not too often we take part in big exercises across multiple boundaries, but sometimes a great opportunity presents its-self!

Salisbury Rail Crash

Salisbury Rail Crash

Some describe it as the Salisbury Rail Crash, some as the Salisbury. Derailment and some as the Salisbury Train Crash. Whatever label one puts on it, officially it was Operation Zambezi.