Many of us experience power cuts from time to time, which can be caused by bad weather or problems with electricity lines.
The first things we look to lay our hands on are likely to be the emergency torches or candles.
But what if you need to make a phone call - to check on relatives, to report the power cut or even to contact the emergency services in the event of an accident or fire?
According to Ofcom research, eight in ten homes in the UK use a cordless landline telephone - but these phones are very unlikely to work in a power cut, even if they're fully charged.
That's because the unit that plugs into the phone socket (the base station) also needs mains power to operate and rarely has a back-up battery.
However, you should still be able to use a traditional plug-in landline phone during a power cut as long as nothing has happened to bring the phone network down, too. This is because your telephone line takes its power from the local telephone exchange, which has back-up power available.
If you have a cordless phone, you could consider keeping a traditional corded phone in your house and keep it connected to the phone socket (or stored in a handy place). This will offer the greatest chance of being able to make calls during a power cut.
Additionally, if you don't already have one, consider having a mobile phone as a back-up (and remember to keep it charged and use it occasionally to make sure it is still working).
Over the next few years, it will become more common for phone calls to be carried over broadband, and this will eventually replace traditional landline call services. Whether you have a corded or cordless landline telephone, broadband-based call services need mains power to operate.
Ofcom rules mean providers must take all necessary measures to ensure their customers can call the emergency services during a power cut. So these companies will need to put additional protections in place as they move to new broadband-based call technology.
Resilience in the event of a power cut
|Corded phone||Likely to work as it gets its power directly from the exchange.|
|Cordless phone||Will not work as the unit that plugs into the phone socket (the base station) also needs mains power to operate and doesn't tend to have a battery.|
|Voice over IP phone or other fixed broadband-based communications service||Will not work as the broadband router, and potentially other equipment in the home, needs mains power to operate and doesn't tend to have a battery.|
|Mobile phone||May work providing it is charged, and 'active', depending on how widespread and long the power cut is.|