British households have been told to prepare for blackouts by keeping torches and warm clothes handy as the coronavirus lockdown continues.

Energy firms have suspended all non-essential work as they brace for a potential shortage in engineers caused by staff sickness and self-isolation.

The National Grid has sought to reassure the British public it can cope with the surge in demand as people stay indoors and work from home during the outbreak.

However, UK Power Networks, which provides electricity to the southeast and east of England, including London, has written to vulnerable customers with advice on what to do if there is a power cut.

Tanjent's PowerBanx X battery storage, in black enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

Tanjent’s PowerBanx X battery storage, in black enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

In a letter to those on the firm’s priority services register, seen by The Daily Telegraph, UK Power Networks gives customers guidance on how to stay warm, keep medicines and food as cold as possible and how to make sure they can call for help.

Customers are advised to keep a “torch handy” as well as “a hat, gloves and blanket” and to trap heat inside their property by closing curtains and doors to any unused rooms.

Vulnerable customers, including those who are elderly, have a disability or medical condition, or have children under the age of five, are told they should keep a power bank fully charged in case their mobile phone battery dies and to use a corded telephone if they can.

The electricity firm also advises fridge and freezer doors should be kept closed to keep essential food and medicines cold.

Food should keep for between four to six hours in the fridge and 15 to 24 hours in the freezer if you can avoid opening it, it added.

Read more: Independent