Electricity is a funny thing. We rely on it so frequently without realising just how dependent we are. Blackouts can massively change this perception:
You never realise just how much you rely on electricity until it gets savagely ripped away from you. Some blackouts only last a couple of seconds, while others can last for hours, days and even weeks. Many of the biggest blackouts are enough to force you to go out and buy a new generator as a precaution – here are the stories that you’ll remember if you were there and be grateful if you weren’t:
England, December 25th 2013
Possibly the worst Christmas ever for thousands of homes across England, with record breaking flooding ruining houses and leaving people without power for Christmas Day. A total of 24,000 properties in the South and South East were still without power up to three days later! Stories in the news showed many families enjoying their Christmas dinner by candlelight and using barbeques to cook their turkeys. But the reality showed that thousands more were flooded out of their homes and left stranded in areas without power.
India, July 31st 2012
Dubbed as the world’s biggest blackout, over 600 million people in India were left without power after a blackout hit half the country. The collapse of a major power grid grounded planes, stopped trains and forced hospitals to rely on backup generators for two days until the problem was fixed. Families were also left without the vital power they need to light their homes, refrigerate food or keep the air conditioning working – a huge problem when living in this warm climate.
Chile, March 14th 2010
Around 15 million people, 90% of Chile’s population, were cut off from power when a key transformer failed. This caused huge traffic issues, as traffic lights were not working and caused wide spread chaos due to the extent of the blackout. Luckily the majority of the country got power back within a few hours, with the rest being back up the following day.
Tokyo, 14th August 2006
Tokyo is a city founded on technology, so you can imagine just how much chaos there was when 1.4 million people were left without power. The incident occurred when a floating crane snapped a transmission line across the Edo River and caused chaos in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The majority of power was restored within an hour, with the full grid back up in just four hours and 42 minutes – very efficient!
Northeast America, August 14th 2003
In the middle of the afternoon, the majority of the North-eastern and Midwestern United States and Ontario was plunged into darkness after a software bug in the energy plant cause the system to become overloaded. This overload played havoc with the electric grid, seeing New York City, Toronto, New Jersey, Detroit, Cleveland and many more without any source of power. Some places got electricity back by 11pm the same day, while others didn’t come back online until two days later.
Power cuts can happen anywhere, at any time (although August 14th looks to be a favourite) so it always pays to be prepared. You can buy used generators at a low cost which can be the difference between sitting around in darkness and carrying on as usual if a blackout occurs.