'Stock up on candles and battery-powered radios': Deputy PM says UK must be prepared for catastrophe

5 December 2023, 10:28 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 10:44

Oliver Dowden wants Brits to stock up on candles and battery-powered radios
Oliver Dowden wants Brits to stock up on candles and battery-powered radios. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Brits should stock up on candles and battery radioes if the country is struck by a disaster that renders digital devices unusable, the deputy prime minister has suggested.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Oliver Dowden said people are too reliant on modern inventions that could affect them if a serious catastrophe happened.

"It always used to be the case that everyone would be able to access a battery-operated radio," he said.

"How many people have a communication device that isn't reliant on digital and electric?

"We shouldn't assume that the resilience we had as individuals when we were growing up is the same now because society has digitised."

He spoke ahead of the launch of a government website designed to encourage people to be ready for major incidents.

These includes terrorism, natural disasters, cyber attacks or even another pandemic like coronavirus.

Read more: Shades of Suella: Immigration minister admits working closely with Braverman on tough new migrant crackdown

The deputy prime minister said Brits need to think of old-school ways of resilience in the digital age
The deputy prime minister said Brits need to think of old-school ways of resilience in the digital age. Picture: Alamy

Mr Dowden said during a visit to the military laboratory in Porton Down that people could stock up on battery-powered radios, torches, candles and first aid kits if power was ever cut off, or if digital communications went down.

"The Government needs to ensure we are resilient in this digital age – including considering those analogue capabilities that it makes sense to retain," he said.

"If you had a power outage and you wanted to get news, where would you get that news from? In the olden days, you'd switch on the radio and you'd hear what was going on."

He also spoke of the dangers of AI - weeks on from Rishi Sunak's discussion with Elon Musk about the technology - and said a "teenage kid" in his bedroom could do more damage in hacking with artificial intelligence.

Read more: 'It's not a snub, we offered them Oliver Dowden': Minister defends Sunak amid Elgin Marbles row

The new site will allow people register up as volunteers if a crisis strikes their area.

A new "resilience academy", which includes the website, will also help businesses prepare for future problems.

Mr Dowden told the Commons: "The Government has a role in bringing all actors together and to give them the skills they need. Today, I can announce we are developing a new UK resilience academy that will improve the skills of those groups.

"It will provide a range of learning and training opportunities for the whole of society.

"For professionals, there will be a curriculum to build skills, knowledge and networks, and a centre for excellence for exercising.

"For businesses, there will be greater guidance and particularly assistance on threats to critical national infrastructure and cyber.

"And for citizens, there will be a unified Government resilience website, which will provide practical advice on how households can prepare as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the simple steps individuals can take to raise their resilience."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The National Lottery site and app is down

National Lottery down as users unable to access site and app day after global IT outage

Thousands of flights were cancelled across the globe on Friday.

Travel misery continues as global IT outage 'could take weeks to clear' - with over 5,000 flights cancelled worldwide

Nadiya Bychkova allegedly made a complaint to Strictly bosses

Strictly pro Nadiya Bychkova breaks silence over 'complaint' amid misconduct scandal

An independent review has recommended teachers and nurses get 5.5% pay rises

Teachers and nurses among millions of public sector workers that should get 5.5% pay rise, ministers told

Tom Tugendhat

Two top Tories back Tom Tugendhat to be next Conservative leader

Shockat Adam

Independent MP who dedicated surprise win to Gaza 'hit with death threat'

The Tavistock Centre

'No evidence' curbs on puberty blockers have led to rise in suicide among trans children, report finds

Thousands of flights were cancelled across the globe on Friday.

Boss of company behind global IT outage 'sincerely apologises' for worldwide chaos sparked by software bug

President Joe Biden

Joe Biden insists he will stay in race, as president's family 'discuss exit plan from election campaign'

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Council to hold 'urgent review of 'family matter' after rioters wreak havoc in Leeds on night of 'shocking' carnage

Brendan Cole slaps his partner Fiona Hill's bottom three times

Strictly pro dancer slaps female partner's bottom three times in freshly surfaced footage, after two dancers leave show

Trump gunman researched Royal family member during planning for assassination attempt

Donald Trump gunman 'scoped out Kate Middleton and had pictures of her on his phone' before failed murder attempt

Thousands of flights were cancelled across the globe on Friday.

Misery for holidaymakers as 4,000 flights grounded by IT outage that sparked chaos, and recovery 'could cost billions'

Christina Sandera and Clint Eastwood in 2018

Clint Eastwood's partner Christina Sandera dies aged 61, as 94-year-old Hollywood icon gives poignant tribute

Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is unlawful, the International Court of Justice has ruled

Top UN court rules Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories 'unlawful', as Netanyahu slams 'false decision'

Over 4,000 flights have been delayed or cancelled today.

Has your flight been affected by the global IT outage? Can you claim compensation?