Types of emergency

Electricity, gas and water emergencies and outages

Electricity, gas, water and sewerage (utility) services can be interrupted:

  • through natural disasters such as fires and storms
  • by acts of terrorism or accidents that damage infrastructure.

Depending on the situation you could be without services for a few minutes, hours or even days.

Utility disruptions

Utility failure can significantly disrupt a community and have a large economic impact. For example:

  • during a heatwave without access to cooling people are more likely to suffer from heat stress if they don't have access to cooling
  • without electricity, traffic lights and some trams and trains may not be operable, leading to major transport delays
  • without electricity and gas you won't have lighting, hot water or be able to cook
  • without electricity and water, businesses may need to close
  • lengthy electricity outages may also affect communications.

Utility distributors

In your area, utility distributors are responsible for:

  • delivering your electricity through their poles and wires
  • supply of your gas and water
  • disposal of your sewerage
  • telecommunications.

In South Australia:

  • SA Power Networks own and operate the electricity distribution network.
  • Australian Gas Networks (AGN) is the primary distributor of natural gas. To find out if your area is covered, refer to the AGN search tool
  • SA Water manages water and sewerage services.

Your utility retailer is responsible for managing your electricity, gas or water account.

Electricity outages

Learn what to do to before, during and after an electricity emergency or outage.

Prepare for an outage

To prepare for an electricity incident or outage:

  • have an emergency plan and work out what you'll do if the electricity supply is cut-off
  • have an emergency kit
  • know how to report an incident or fault
  • know how to be informed about outages
  • know how to be electricity safe.

Reporting major incidents

For life-threatening situations (including downed powerlines where there's a risk of an electric shock):

  • call Triple Zero (000) and ask for Police
  • phone SA Power Networks on 13 13 66.

General outages and faults

If the outage is affecting just your home, check that the safety switch is still on.

If the outage is affecting others around you, check SA Power Networks current power interruptions before making a report.

If the outage hasn't been reported, report it to SA Power Networks online or phone 13 13 66.

Be informed

Register with SA Power Networks' free messaging service, Power@MyPlace to get SMS or email power outage alerts. The alerts will tell you:

  • if SA Power Networks is aware that there is an outage in your suburb
  • the estimated time the power will be restored
  • when the power is restored.

During periods of prolonged or widespread power outages and during emergency events, listen to your local ABC radio station for updates.

Life-support equipment

If you require an uninterrupted supply of power because you are on life-support equipment or have a medical condition that requires a continuous power supply:

  • develop an action plan with your doctor and family in case the power goes out
  • contact your electricity retailer or SA Power Networks to discuss your needs and register as a Life Support customer. Registering as a Life Support customer won't guarantee continuous electricity supply but SA Power Networks will be able to keep you informed of planned outages.

Refer to the SA Power Networks life support fact sheet.

Prevent outages

Trees around powerlines are a major cause of power outages. Property owners have a responsibility to regularly clear vegetation away from service lines (the wires between the electricity pole and your house fuse). Damaged lines can cause fires and are a risk to people's safety. If vegetation is touching these service lines call SA Power Networks who can confirm that it can be cleared safely.

If vegetation needs to be cleared from around powerlines in the street contact your local council or SA Power Networks.

Avoid damage to underground electric cables during digging. Remember to Dial Before You Dig on 1100.

Trees and powerlines

Working safely near underground assets.

Be electricity safe

Licensed electricians and electrical certificates of compliance

Powerline safety

Safety switches

During an outage

During an outage be safe by:

  • keeping clear of fallen powerlines, as they may still be live
  • not using candles for lighting; use torches or battery-operated lanterns
  • not under any circumstances connecting temporary generators to household wiring
  • making sure appliances are turned off as they could come back on when you're not there
  • if in doubt, getting a licensed electrician to check it's safe before turning electricity back on.

If you have a back-up generator wired into the household supply, this work needs to be carried out by a licensed electrician to ensure that power is not fed into the SA Power Network.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning make sure petrol or diesel-powered generators are only operated in well-ventilated outdoor areas, away from open windows and vents.

Handy tips

If your mobile phone battery is running low, use it sparingly and turn it off when it's not in use. Charge your mobile phone in the car when you're driving.

Use your gas BBQ or camp stove for cooking, but leave it outside.

Only open fridge and freezer doors when absolutely necessary to keep the food cold for longer.

Keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer by closing curtains.

Turn off and unplug all appliances with sensitive electrical components such as computers, televisions and microwaves.

Don't use lifts when the electricity is off.

If driving, take care as street and traffic lights may not work.

Check on and support your neighbours if they need help.

After an outage

SA Power Network customers who experience long or frequent power outages may be eligible to payments for inconvenience. To find out about your eligibility visit claims for power variations or interruptions.

Throw out any food that has gone off in the fridge or freezer.

Food safety in an emergency - SA Health

Gas outages

Learn what to do to before, during and after a gas emergency or outage.

Prepare for an outage

To prepare for a gas incident or outage:

Reporting major incidents

For life-threatening situations (including gas leaks or explosions) in public places:

  • call Triple Zero (000) and ask for Fire
  • phone Australian Gas Networks on 1800 GAS LEAK (1800 427 532).

Reporting gas leaks.

Gas leaks on your property

For natural gas leaks on your property:

  • turn the gas off at the supply point
  • if it's a significant leak contact dial Triple Zero (000) and ask for Fire
  • if you're certain the leak is on your property, arrange for a licensed gas fitter to do any repair work and get a certificate of compliance, when the job is completed
  • if you're unsure if the leak is on your property, phone 1800 GAS LEAK (1800 427 532).

For LPG leaks on your property:

  • turn off all gas appliances and cylinders straight away
  • phone your gas retailer.

Prevent outages

Avoid damage to underground gas pipes during digging. Remember to Dial Before You Dig on 1100.

Working safely near underground assets.

Be gas safe

How to turn your gas on and off

Licensed gas fitter and gas certificates of compliance

LPG cylinders and fittings

During an outage

Be safe by:

  • making sure appliances are turned off as they could come back on when you're not there
  • if in doubt, getting a licensed gas fitter to check it's safe before turning gas back on.

Don't attempt to use an appliance designed to operate on natural gas with LPG, unless it's converted by a qualified gas fitter and a gas certificate of compliance issued.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning make sure petrol or diesel-powered generators are only operated in well-ventilated outdoor areas, away from open windows and vents.

Handy tips

If you have gas for cooking, use a gas BBQ or camp stove instead, but leave it outside.

Check on and support your neighbours if they need help.

After an outage

Be safe and follow these instructions for turning on your natural gas supply and LPG supply.

Telecommunications

Learn what happens when computer, internet and phone services are disrupted due to a power blackout or network failure.

Power blackout

If your home or business relies on electricity, during a power blackout, you won’t be able to use:

  • Fixed landline phones, unless there is hardwired telephone access ie not connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
  • Cordless phones once the battery goes flat.
  • Modems, TVs and Wi-Fi routers.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, as they are dependent on access to the internet.

There are some variations to the above depending on your equipment and telecommunications plan, so it is best to talk to your network provider and equipment supplier about available options for backup power supply units.

It is recommended that you have a charged mobile phone, with a portable power bank as an alternative. Power banks vary greatly in size and capacity.

After the power is cut, your equipment may need to be restarted. Switch off all equipment and power points, wait 10 seconds, then turn them back on.

Network failure

Unplanned or unexpected outages to your network connection can also occur.

Network outages will affect telecommunications services, including those to your mobile phone.

To find out about network outages in your area check with your network service provider eg Optus, Telstra, Vodafone.

Making calls

During an emergency, more people than usual are trying to use their phones. This can lead to network congestion. To help free up space on the network:

  • If you are phoning 000 (Triple Zero) and there is a short delay, stay on the line so you don’t lose your place in the queue.
  • Limit non-emergency calls.
  • Keep phone calls brief.
  • Try SMS messaging when using your mobile phone. In many cases text messages will go through when calls won’t. If the network is too congested to send a text message, the message will be sent when the service resumes.
  • Try a variety of communication services, if you are unsuccessful in getting through with one.
  • Wait 10 seconds before redialling a call. If you-dial too quickly the old data doesn’t have time to clear before trying to send the call again.

Triple Zero and making emergency calls from mobiles

Calling Triple Zero (000) from a mobile phone - Australian government

NBN

When you connect to the NBN, some existing devices such as back-to-base alarm monitoring systems and medical alarm systems may not work during a power blackout or network failure.

Speak with your service provider of alarms, internet or any other services attached to your phone line, to discuss the affect that NBN can have. You will also need to register any monitored medical alarms on the NBN medical alarm register.

Water and sewerage

Learn what to do to before, during and after a water and sewerage emergency or outage.

Reporting incidents or faults

For major water incidents or faults, including leaks, phone SA Water on 1300 883 121. Before making a report, check for current major faults and scheduled works.

The SA Water website has information on:

Sewer blockages normally occur due to broken, damaged or collapsed pipes.

A sewer blockage is on your property if the water isn't draining away as it should in sinks, showers, baths and toilets. Arrange for a licensed plumber to do any repair work and get a certificate of compliance when the job is completed.

If you think the sewer blockage is in SA Water's pipes, call their Customer Service Centre on 1300 883 121.

Be prepared

In case the water supply is interrupted:

In case the sewerage is damaged or blocked:

If a major leak or burst water main is detected, help protect your home and recover from a flood by referring to flood information.

The SA Water website has information on sewer blockages including prevention, what do if there is a sewer blockage, and how to make a claim.

Prevent outages

Avoid damage to underground water and sewerage pipes during digging. Remember to Dial Before You Dig on 1100.

Working safely near underground assets


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Provided by: SAFECOM
Page last updated 5 April 2017

Provided by:
SAFECOM
URL:
https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/emergencies-and-safety/types/utility-outages
Last Updated:
05/04/17
Printed on:
23/11/17
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016