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Should I switch appliances off ahead of a French power cut?

We look at how power cuts might affect household appliances and what you should do to avoid any damage

We look at how power cuts might affect household appliances Pic: hedgehog94 / Shutterstock

Reader Question: If there are power cuts this winter, could they affect the functioning of our household appliances? 

If France’s electricity network comes under significant strain and two-hour-long power cuts are scheduled to control the situation, there is a small chance that your household appliances could be damaged. 

The system needed to run electronic devices such as WiFi boxes and gaming consoles can be damaged if they are not turned off correctly, so repeated power cuts could make them unusable. However, the government has said that if power outages do occur, no household should be affected more than once. 

To be on the safe side, if you know a power cut is going to occur, you could unplug all of these devices in advance. 

The same goes for appliances such as washing machines. If a power cut happens while a washing machine is in the middle of a cycle, it can be damaged by the water within it so you should avoid using it if you know a cut is scheduled. 

It would seem that the main risk with fridges and freezers is that all the items held within will warm up and go bad, but as the power cuts will only last for two hours, this need not be a concern as the appliances will stay cold for this time as long as you do not open the door. 

A properly functioning freezer can keep things cold for 24-48 hours depending on how full it is while a fridge can stay cold for six hours. 

If at any time you experience an unplanned power cut that goes beyond six hours, you should avoid consuming any open dairy products, meat, fish or seafood in your fridge after the electricity comes back on.

If your freezer temperature gets above 4C, you should also avoid eating any of the above food categories contained within.

There are insurance options including a garantie dommages électriques, which covers all appliances under five years old that have been damaged by a fault or power cut. You can check your current policy to see if this is included. 

Related articles 

French power cuts: what about lifts, cash machines or electric locks?

French power cuts: will we be notified in advance if in area affected?

At what times would controlled power cuts occur this winter in France?

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