Woke up to a power outage – now what?

I woke up this morning to my daughter next to my bed telling me that she couldn’t turn on the television.  Blurry-eyed, I went out of my room to investigate and found that the power to the whole house was out.  Nothing was on.  Well trained by our time in Indonesia, where consistent power is a luxury only to those who invest in their own generator (or gen-set).  And so began an adventure that was thankfully over before it really even inconvenienced us.  We’ll call it power outage – Malaysia style.

I think it is still old habits but I keep a working battery powered flashlight near my bed, and near my desk.  In a real pinch, my iPhone has a flashlight app that I can use if I need it.  I can move around my house by feel pretty well, but you never know if there’s a toy in the middle of the floor where it doesn’t belong, and God forbid it be a Lego(tm) that you step on with bare feet!

Fuse or breaker?

The circuit breaker box near my front doorSo, I went to find the circuit breaker box.  In my house, it is near the front door.  I’ve seen these things tucked away in kitchens.  You just need to know where to find the things.  All the breakers were pointed up, meaning, untripped.  Meaning the power outage was coming from outside the house.

We had a situation early on in our time in this house where there was a new Air Con unit on a low wattage breaker.  We hired an electrician to reroute some lines and to install a bigger circuit breaker.

Is it a neighborhood power outage?

I peeked out the front door. Since dawn was just breaking, streetlights were still on.  Across the street my neighbors lights were on.  I could tell immediately that the problem was not the neighborhood.

Whole neighborhoods do lose power.  About a month ago, a big storm came through and knocked down some trees and took out some lines.  The power outage did not affect every home and was fixed in a matter of hours.

Time to make the call

logo[1]Honestly, I didn’t know what to do next.  I used one of our mobile phones to see what the power company website said to do.  And I was able to find this lovely page about what to do in case of a power interruption.

I found out that there’s a 24 hour service line at 15454.  You can call or SMS this number to let them know you have a power outage issue.  What you need to know is that the system is mostly in Bahasa Melayu.   To help you out, I’m going to walk you through the system step by stem in English so that you can get your report in as quickly as possible.  (One last caveat: this SMS system works for Digi, Maxis and Celcom mobile phones only.)

  1. I sent an SMS to 15454, but the auto responder sent this back to me:

    Sila taip <nama>, <alamat kejadian>, <negeri>

    That means “Please type <name>, <address of occurence>, <state>”

    It’s an automated system, so you need to do it exactly for the computer to file your report.  Remember this is in Bahasa Melayu, so when you type in <state> make it “Pulau Pinang” not “Penang”.

  2. Next, it sent me this:

    Sila taip <BD> utk tiada blkn, <L> utk lampu jalan, <REG> or <DFTR> utk pendaftaran, <SBD>, <No. Laporan> utk status laporan terkini dari hantar ke 15454

    This is the automated system asking for more info.

    Send <BD> if you are reporting an issue at a particular address.

    <L> if a street light is out

    <REG> or <DFTR> to register yourself.  This is different than reporting a problem.


  3. I sent <BD> and got a report number.  Take note of the report number because if you want to check your status later, you can send them:
    <SBD> and that number to 15454
  4. About 45 minutes later I got a call confirming my address and telling me a technician had been dispatched.
  5. 15 minutes after that the technician was there.  He found a burnt fuse in the power box outside my gate and replaced it.  And I was up and running 2 hours after I made my report.

They did tell me that I got unusually fast service because there were no other reported problems.  During the big storm, the wait time got up to 4-6 hours.  I guess it’s a matter of perspective.  If you are expecting North American service, yeah that feels like a long time.  If you are used to 15 hours of power interruption every 3rd day, which was how bad it got in our time in Indonesia, this was a breeze.

Please leave a comment if you’ve used the system before, if you have any horror stories of your own power outage, or any questions you might have.