Okay, so - power cuts.
We bang on about them and nobody likes them, but they are seen as more of an inconvenience rather than something we should be in fear of.
That's okay - most people do only have minor downtime with power cuts and the last thing we want to do is scaremonger. We've been accused of it before, because in effect, a large part of our business is generated (excuse the pun!) by the effects of mains failure and power outages.
It may seen cynical to be cashing in on people's misery and torment, but that's not what we're doing.
In real terms, we don't like power cuts either. We're an internet site, so no power is no customers.
Aside from this, we try and promote preventative and proactive sales of generators, not reactive panic buying. This can lead to mistakes.
However, we do have to stop pretending that this isn't happening.
Power cuts are getting more and more frequent and are lasting for much longer.
Now thankfully, 2014 was a milder year towards the end, but the tail end of 2013, and the start of last year, is still imprinted in many people's memories, not least for those thousands of households in the north-west of Scotland, the highlands and offshore islands from Orkney down to Arran, the south east of England, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex.
Throw in the flood plains of Hereford and Gloucester and areas in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall still rebuilding their coastlines, and 2014 isn't going to be a year that is just forgiven simply because a repeat performance failed to seriously materialise.
On the flip side of this, according to TweetBinder, in the first 8 days of this year alone, there have been 1,349 tweets (RTs included) which have included the hashtag #powercut.
On the back of this, we have seen an increase in sales of generators and water pumps so, as we are constantly continuing to offer advice and promote awareness of power cuts, we thought it was time we put together some sort of handy hints and things you need to do or have to help prepare for a power cut.
1. Get a generator
Let's get this out of the way now.
Rather than find a fluffy way to insert this in at the end and actively profiteer from blackouts, let's put it first.
This is the best way you are going to be able to cope in a power cut - find the right generator, get it installed, figure out what is available and what you are comfortable with.
What is affordable? Reasonably assess what can you not live without during an outage, and also what you don't need.
The less you need, the smaller and cheaper the generator should be but if you do think or would like to keep the lights or heating on, you have but one real choice.
Again, spend some time on this, and don't rush into it. There are so many things you need to consider and we are always more than keen to help you figure out what it is you need and how you can get it.
2. A means of communication
Most modern house phones don’t work during power cuts, so keep a non-digital or mobile phone handy in case of emergencies. Not a problem, it's a modern world and most of us have plenty of mobiles in the home but prolonged cuts can outlast any battery life your smartphone has managed to deplete after only 20 minutes of playing Candy Crush Saga.
Have you ever noticed just how fast your battery runs out when you don't have a charger? Make sure you keep a portable USB charger in the drawer and spare batteries. And make sure the kids don't know where the supplies are kept, or you could find your battery stocks seriously low all for the sake of them SnapChatting pictures of them in the dark to their friends.
3. Have someone to call
If you have a central spot in your house like a cork or whiteboard for messages and important info, make sure somewhere in there is he emergency contact info for your electricity service provider.
They will most likely be on the case but someone has to call and let them know what areas are affected. They can also give you service updates as the hours go on.
It's important to remember at this point that they will be doing all they can, but no one knows what may cause blackouts, or even when they will occur.
Just in November, despite assurances from the National Grid that there would be no winter power cuts, Western Power Distribution felt the need to send out 7.8m glow-in-the-dark fridge magnets which contained power cut advice to their customers.
That's what a teenager may refer to as '#Confidence'.
All of the above so far are useless without a torch. Get a few and keep them around the house. Know where they are and make sure others know too.
It's a lot easier to start to deal with things even if all you can see is displayed in a circular ball of light.
5. Check your CO2 alarms
It might not seem like the best time to do it, but even if you don't have a generator, someone nearby or next door may.
If, like many, the last time you checked the batteries in the alarm was when the Spice Girls were topping the charts, you need to know that with heightened use of petrol and diesel-driven engine equipment that you are going to be safe.
Specifically if you are using a generator or power source yourself, this is a must.
Keep yourself safe and remember that you should never ever run a fuel-engine or gas-powered machine indoors.
Just having some bottles can relieve the pressures and anxiety of the cut itself and make sure you are suitably hydrated.
Think of food in the same way.
In the event of a power cut, the freezer is going to last 24 hours before starting to thaw, but that's as long as you don't keep opening it up, presumably to pine over all the food you can't cook.
Keep the fridge and freezer closed and hope for the best.
8. Warm clothes It's also best to keep some non-perishable food in the cupboards, so you actually can eat something.
Seems like a given, but body temperature is incredibly important so warm coats, jumpers, clothes and blankets are always handy.
Make sure you close all the windows and keep as much heat in as you can. You will miss it when it's gone.
9. Candles, matches and/or a lighter
Different to torches, which should be used sparingly, candles will provide a light source and you can keep the torches for the immediate emergency of the power going out.
10. First aid kit
Driving home the importance of point 4, if you don't have a torch, you need have a first aid kit.
You should have one regardless, as being thrown into sudden darkness can cause panic which leads to accidents.
In addition, it’s always possible for people to fall ill during a power cut. Make sure you've got a comprehensive first aid kit to hand and if you or any of your family need to take regular medication, make sure you have it with you in an easily accessible place.
11. Playing cards, books or games
Once you are settled and comfortable, you have to get on with things.
If you have no access to heating at all, try to take your mind off the colder periods by keeping busy, active or playing games.
At the end of the day, you probably haven't spent much time like this with your family or friends. See what you can get out of it.
Anything that gets you through it as a group is going to be for the best.
12. Get yourself a checklist
Aside from this one. One like this one, but more specific to you.
Make sure you consider all your needs and requirements and think of how things can or will be achieved if you had no power.
Could you make allowances or cope without certain things? If so, great, but if not, start to think about preparing for them now.
We hope this has been helpful, but if you do decide you need any further help, please don't hesitate to give us a call.