Emergency Prevention

What to do in the event of a power failure or blackout? Tips and Solutions

Germany’s power supply is considered one of the safest in Europe. Nevertheless, there is also a certain risk of power failures and blackouts in this country. However, the supply of electricity and heat is not only of great importance for our well-being, but in many cases also for our health. In times of crisis, you should therefore look into alternative power supply solutions.

Power failure and blackout – from a short power interruption to total failure

A power outage is a temporary loss of power. Power outages are regionally limited and usually affect a rather manageable number of people. The cause of the failure is usually quickly localized. In the event of a power failure, the power supply is restored within a few minutes or hours. Since many public facilities such as hospitals, but also larger companies, are often equipped with an emergency generator, minor power failures sometimes go unnoticed.

A blackout, on the other hand, is a supply collapse. This is a widespread power outage affecting a large number of people at the same time. In the event of a blackout, not only households are affected, but also companies and public facilities such as hospitals and schools.

How does a power outage or blackout occur?

A power outage is caused by an imbalance in the power grid. Just as much new electricity has to be fed into the power grid as is drawn from it. As soon as more electricity is drawn than is being supplied, safety mechanisms normally stabilize the grid. However, in the case of very strong, unexpected fluctuations, a collapse occurs. As a result, the power goes out.

Power outages can occur for many different reasons. For example, if many households use electric heaters and fan heaters at the same time, the selectively high power consumption can cause a short-term power failure. Under normal circumstances, however, storms, accidents and technical defects represent the greatest risk factors for power failures. Storms and heavy rainfall in particular can lead to brief interruptions in the power supply.

Blackouts usually occur as a result of very bad weather conditions. Storms, thunderstorms and heavy snowfall can damage or destroy the power lines and thus cause long-lasting, widespread power outages. Since a blackout in emergency situations can last for several days, private provision is crucial in this case.

How likely is a power outage in Germany?

In 2020, German households only had to go without electricity for an average of just over 10 minutes. Occasionally there were local and regional power outages. On the other hand, there has not yet been a nationwide blackout in Germany. According to the federal government, this is still considered unlikely today. However, the risk of a power failure in Germany is currently higher than in previous years due to the energy transition and the gas shortage.

In 2022, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection carried out a test on the security of the power grid. This revealed that in some regions of Europe there is a high probability of power outages. It turned out that in critical scenarios there can also be short-term failures in the German power grid. The blackout probability is still rather low.

How can I check if it’s a power outage or blackout?

A power outage is a brief interruption in the power supply that is usually resolved within a few hours. A power outage is limited to a small area, such as a settlement, a district or a city. A blackout, on the other hand, affects larger areas such as entire federal states or even countries and lasts much longer.

As soon as a power outage lasts longer than a few hours and affects a larger area, you can assume with a high probability that it is a blackout. Since television, radio and other media are not available in this case, you can only obtain very limited information about the situation. A solar-powered crank radio gives you the opportunity to find out about the current events to be updated.

What do I have to consider in the event of a blackout?

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