HOUSEHOLDS could face blackouts this winter if the energy crisis continues and there's a drop in temperatures.
National Grid warned blackouts could be imposed in January and February.
The outages could occur on the coldest days between 4pm and 7pm in the worst case.
Households would be notified of temporary power outages ahead of time and they would be according to where they live.
Blocks of households in particular areas could have their supplies cut off on rotation to avoid the entire country being plunged into darkness.
Why is the UK facing blackouts?
Colder temperatures during the winter naturally lead to more energy being consumed as people turn the heating on and have to use electricity for longer periods of the day.
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But there has been unprecedented turmoil in energy markets in Europe, due to shortfalls in gas caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Around 40% of the UK's electricity supply is generated from gas.
The National Grid said that we are expecting a "challenging" winter and it is planning for what would happen if we're unable to import electricity from Europe if the UK does not have enough gas.
Previously the National Grid has always said that if there were planned blackouts, these would only affect big businesses and not households.
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To tackle a loss of imports from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, there are two gigawatts of coal-fired power plants on stand-by to fire up if needed to meet demand.
How do I keep warm during a blackout?
Firstly, ensuring you have ample clothing on is a must.
Wearing thick clothes and multiple layers will ensure that your body retains heat while your heating is off – don't forget blankets too.
Make sure that all windows and doors around your house are closed to keep as much heat in as possible.
Without energy, you won't be able to turn on your cooker to boil up a kettle and make yourself a warm drink.
It's worth preparing a thermos flask with some tea or hot chocolate to help you keep warm throughout the blackout before your it starts.
Make sure to add some hot water to a hot water bottle if you have one.
If you're given enough advanced notice of a blackout, manually turn on your central heating the hour beforehand to ensure that your house is at a comfortable temperature before the power goes out.
Those with a log burner or open fire should make sure that they have enough fuel supplies stocked up beforehand.
And only use your fire if the chimney is regularly swept as this will help reduce the risk of house fires.
If you've got a portable generator, don't even think about using it inside your home.
Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First said: "Many people may look to generators to keep the lights on and stay warm.
"Portable diesel and petrol generators must be used with caution to avoid making a life-threatening mistake. It’s essential you never plug a generator into an installation that wasn’t specifically designed for it, as you could get a serious electric shock.
"Generators must be used outside of your home and you should never use them inside due to the dangerous exhaust fumes they release."
The same goes for using camping stoves indoors – as these can release toxic fumes into your home.
And avoid using DIY tealight heaters. These so called "tricks" involve placing plant pots over candles to make rooms warmer – but experts say households shouldn't do this.
The London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner Charlie Pugsley said: "Candles are one of the most common causes of fires in the home and they shouldn’t be used for anything other than their intended purpose."
"Although life hacks can be handy, so many of them have the potential to be dangerous, and we would urge people not to follow these tricks."
The London Fire Brigade said that candles should never be covered with anything – as anything placed over a candle flame will get very hot, and could melt or catch fire.
What else can I do to prepare for blackouts?
We've listed 11 key steps you should take if you've been informed that your household will be affected by an enforced blackout this winter.
Make sure you have a light source
You should prepare some alternate light sources so that you wouldn't have to use the flash on your phone and use up most of your battery.
You can buy yourself a torch, either one that works with batteries or one that you can charge up ahead of the blackout.
It would be better to buy a battery-generated one because if it runs out of energy, you'll just have to change its batteries.
On the other hand, if you have a torch that your power-charge, then you cannot charge it once the battery dies if you're still in a blackout.
Charge your devices
Make sure to charge your phone, tablet and laptop.
It is best to buy yourself a portable charger and make sure its battery is full before the power cut so that if your phone battery dies, you can easily charge it.
It's important that you have your phone with you just in case an emergency happens or you need to keep company of someone who lives alone and has to go through the blackout by themselves.
Unplug your appliances
Unplug all your non-essential appliances ahead of the blackout.
These include TVs, computers, cookers, irons and others.
This is because once the power comes back on, the power surge might cause the appliane's circuit to fry and damage it, leaving you having to buy a new one.
Keep a list of contacts
Just in case you forget to charge your portable charger and your phone battery dies, you should prepare a list of important contact beforehand.
This is so if an emergency happens, and someone else doesn't have a certain person's number, you'll still be able to get in touch.
Prepare some food beforehand
During a blackout, you shouldn't open your fridge freezer.
Food can last in the fridge freezer without power for up to four hours if the doors are never open.
Since the blackouts will last three hours, then the food in your fridge freezer should be saved.
Just in case you get hungry during the blackout, you should think ahead and buy some snacks or some food that you don't need to refrigerate.
Also, during blackout times, try to reduce how much-refrigerated food you buy, so just in case some of it goes bad, you wouldn't have to get rid of most of it and waste money in the process.
Prepare a first-aid kit
Just in case it's needed, it's best if you keep a first aid kit around.
Examples of useful items to have on hand include plasters, bandages, disposable gloves, painkillers and an eye wash.
Ask your doctor about medical equipment
If you have any medical equipment that you need electricity to use and turns out that you normally use it during the blackout, then let your doctor know.
He can provide you with an alternative or even tell you to use the equipment at a later time.
Get into grips with the garage
Make sure that you know how to operate the manual release of your garage, just in case you have to take your car out.
If not, you won't be able to open the door because there would be no electricity to generate the automatic release.
Keep your tank full
Make sure to fill up your car tank with fuel before a blackout.
During power cut times, petrol stations will not be working because the pumps need electricity to work.
If you urgently need to get somewhere and realise that your tank needs a refill, you won't be able to.
Keep some cash handy
Card machines do not work without electricity and you might find yourself having to buy something urgently from a shop.
That is why it is best to keep some cash handy, so you'll still be able to pay.
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Think about the stairlift
If someone uses a stairlift in your home, remember that this won't work during the blackout.
You can either help them prepare to spend the blackout period in one area of the house or else you can contact your manufacturer for advice.
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