Media Release: Prepare and Stay Aware Summer Readiness

7 December 2019

Residents in the state’s west are being encouraged to prepare for the fire season and make sure they know what to do if the power goes out in an emergency this summer, with predictions of a high fire danger season ahead.

Electricity network operator Powercor has launched its annual ‘Prepare and Stay Aware’ safety campaign, providing simple steps to householders and businesses about how they can reduce bushfire risk and ensure they are prepared if power supply is unexpectedly interrupted.

This follows a year of significant work by Powercor to inspect, maintain and upgrade the 88,000 kilometres of poles and wires in its network to ensure it is also ready for summer.

Powercor Bushfire Mitigation Manager Dene Ward encouraged residents in western Victoria to make sure they have an emergency plan and that it is up to date.

“Victoria is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world. The dry conditions across the state’s west over winter means we are facing a dangerous season ahead and we’ve already had total fire ban days declared this month,” Mr Ward said.

“During bushfires, electricity supply can be affected so we are encouraging people to take a few simple steps to prepare for power outages and make sure they know what to do if they were faced with this situation.”

Powercor is encouraging people to:

  • Report any vegetation growing close to powerlines to 13 22 06;
  • Sign up to SMS alerts and receive information, including outage details and estimated restoration time;
  • Prepare an emergency kit;
  • Understand how to manually operate automatic garage doors and gates without electricity;
  • For those on life support, review individual plans in case of a power outage;
  • If water pumps rely on electricity, have an alternative power source;
  • Clear dry vegetation from properties and clean gutters of debris;
  • Download the Vic Emergency app and check current warnings and updates at emergency.vic.gov.au
  • For outage information visit powercor.com.au

Business owners are encouraged to:

  • Back-up their data and keep duplicate copies of all important documents in a secure location;
  • Consider alternative power sources such as a small generator which can keep refrigeration going during longer outages;
  • Check insurance policies are up to date and;
  • Consider how employees will be contacted in an emergency and if power is interrupted.

“Powercor owns and operates electricity poles and wires across some of Victoria’s most bushfire-prone areas and making sure our network is delivering safe, reliable and affordable power  to the community is our priority” Mr Ward said.

“Over 500 people in our 13 depots across the region have been working throughout the year to get the network ready for summer.

“To date we have moved 300km of rural powerlines underground in our highest bushfire risk areas and by the end of December, we would have inspected the integrity of 200,000 power poles.  Using advanced aerial radar technology, we have also checked 450,000 powerline spans across our network to ensure vegetation is outside of the required clearance space and when it’s not, made sure those trees are trimmed.”

Mr Ward said that even with the greatest technology, incidents can still occur in extreme weather conditions and in the face of bushfires.

“Upgrading the safety control systems on our network has therefore also been a focus.  In particular, our program to install Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters, which is like a safety switch for the network, is well underway.  This was a recommendation of the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.”

By sharing the safety message, residents have an opportunity to win one of three iPhone XS’s and a $1000 donation towards a volunteer CFA brigade in the Powercor network by visiting Powercor’s Facebook page and entering the ‘Prepare and Stay Aware’ competition.

For more information call Powercor’s media line on 03 9683 4342

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