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Does your Phone still work if the electricity fails?

Make sure you have at least one basic standard phone that works even if there is a power failure!


Even more serious than the misbehaviour of the gas system, is what happens to the phone if the electricity supply fails. It's easy to fall for the assumption that it will be unaffected, and this has an interesting history to it. In the old days, all the telephones in the area were powered from the telephone exchange, where there were huge banks of giant lead-acid batteries, and a well-maintained backup generator. So, you could still make phone calls during a power cut. These days it's not so simple, because some phones are fancy electronic gadgets and some of them require mains power to work at all.

Cordless phones are vulnerable, and you can see this by the fact they have a portable handset in radio communication was a mains powered base station which plugs into the wall.

Also vulnerable are VoIP phones (Voice over Internet) computer-phones, and phones connected through a DSL box. I've seen these where the junction box is powered from a 48 volt power supply plugged into a power outlet. No mains, no phone! In the case of a DSL box and 48 volt power supply, you could have an emergency backup battery. In the case of a full VoIP computer phone, you'd need an Uninterruptible Power Supply on your computer and your router etc! When I switched my BT phone to being a Vonage phone, the phone plugged into a fancy box which was powered from a mains adaptor. For that to work in an emergency, the power to all of the network hubs and switches as well as the Internet connection would all need to be working during the emergency.

Because of the vulnerability to electric power failure, you should have at least one basic phone which is still works with no mains. Pick up a basic phone from somewhere, like a charity shop. If you think the basic old phone looks untidy, keep it in the drawer with the candles!

Incidentally, mobile phones are different again. Obviously not requiring a mains lead all the time or they wouldn't be mobile, but do you keep your phone battery charged up? Hurricane preparedness sites recommend having a spare battery as well as keeping the phone charged up. Also, the continued service to mobile phones is dependent on the continued working of mobile phone masts, but these are assumed to have a backup power system of their own.

The likelihood of having to make an emergency call is higher during a power cut!


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