Power company chiefs have urged people to be prepared for the wintry weather which is forecast to hit the North East this weekend.
Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the network that delivers electricity to homes and businesses across the region, is prepared if snow, gales and freezing temperatures affects its power network.
The Met Office has issused a yellow weather warning from around noon on Saturday and into Sunday, with forecasters warning on potential heavier snow on higher ground, freezing rain and winds of up to 50mph.
They have also issued an amber ice warning because of freezing rain from 10am on Saturday until 6am on Sunday, warning of conditions that could pose a 'danger to life'.
Rod Gardner, Northern Powergrid's head of network operations, said: "We’re monitoring the weather very closely.
"We’ve already taken action to ensure that we have extra frontline teams available, and our 4x4s and specialist access vehicles ready so we can restore power and carry out repairs if there is any disruption or damage to our network as a result of the winds and wintry conditions.
“We’re also ready with additional staff at our local 24-hour control, dispatch and contact centre, which can be reached by calling the 105, as well as teams in other locations around our business who will be ready to offer our customers support and advice.
“Our website, northernpowergrid.com, has an easy-to-use power cut map and reporting service which our customers can use to report a power cut and get updates about what we’re doing to get their lights back on.
“We’re encouraging customers to take a few minutes to add 105 and bookmark our website on their mobile phones so they are ready to use our services if they need to. They may also want to watch our videos, which will help them know exactly what to do if they do have a power cut.”
Northern Powergrid’s 24/7 Twitter (@northpowergrid) and Facebook pages will also provide regular updates and advice to customers and local communities.
The company, which manages a network of 63,000 substations and more than 60,000 miles of overhead power lines and underground cables, will deploy all available resources as necessary to deal with any potential damage caused.
Customers with a disability, medical condition or very young families, who may need greater assistance during a power cut and have signed up to the company’s Priority Services Register, will be kept updated as a priority.
Anyone interested in joining the Priority Services Register can sign up online via Northern Powergrid’s website or call the electricity distributor’s Powergrid Care team on 0800 169 2996.
Northern Powergrid is also ready to use its customer support vehicles, wherever possible, during any potential prolonged power cut to help local communities by offering practical support such as stay-warm packs and hot drinks. Its partnership with the British Red Cross will also help provide additional care to customers on the register, when necessary.
Northern Powergrid is urging anyone who spots any damaged cables or other equipment not to approach the area, but to report it immediately by calling 105 the free, easy-to-remember national phone line which will route people to Northern Powergrid.
Power cut advice and tips include:
* bookmark Northern Powergrid’s online power cut map and reporting service on your mobile devices – www.northernpowergrid.com/power-cuts
* have a charged mobile phone with important numbers, including 105 - the free national power cut phone line, easily accessible.
* turn off electrical appliances at the socket (particularly important for heating or cooking appliances, as your power could be restored at any time and potentially cause a safety hazard)
* keep one light switched on so you know when power is restored
* keep a battery or wind-up torch handy – they’re much safer than candles
* check on your elderly or sick neighbours and relatives
* ensure you have warm clothing and blankets handy and some food and drink in your home that does not require electricity to heat or prepare it
* only call 999 in an emergency.