During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service.
If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges.
You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours.
Since power outages are so closely tied to weather, you can stay informed by following storm warnings and weather forecasts through Public Weather Alerts Canada.
- The key to staying safe is to prepare and to have an emergency plan in place.
- Have at least three days of emergency supplies available.
- Plan for persons with functional needs such as essential medical equipment or mobility issues. Consider how they may be affected in a power outage – for example, if you are without elevator service.
- Know where municipality shelters are located.
- Protect all your sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protecting power bar.
- If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, like an electrician. Make sure the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
- Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it’s hard-wired to the house’s electricity supply, make sure it has a battery-power back-up.
- Make sure you keep a flashlight with working batteries in a place that is easily accessible and where everyone can find it.
- Have a non-powered phone available. Landlines may still work without power.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full.
- Be sure you know how to open your garage door manually.
- Cellular telephone circuits become extremely busy during emergencies, only use your phone for emergencies.
- Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.
- Check whether the power outage is only in your home. If your neighbors’ power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
- Turn off all your appliances and electronic equipment and turn your heating thermostats down to a minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
- Turn off all your lights, except one inside and one outside.
- Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide.
- Use flashlights, not candles to reduce fire risk
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads may be congested.
- be ready to evacuate
- if you are trapped or injured call 911!
- Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors who may require assistance.
- Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them.
- You shouldn’t try to remove or trim branches near a power line. If a tree or tree limbs have fallen on a power line or pulled it down, keep a safe distance from the line or the tree. Call 911, as soon as you can!
- Check the outside of the house for any signs of damage or danger.
- When in doubt, throw it out! Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen for 24-36 hours, depending on the temperature. When food begins to defrost it should be thrown out.
- Turn on the main power switch and gradually turn on appliances and electronics to avoid damage as a result of a power surge.
People with disabilities or others requiring assistance
Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:
- Your evacuation route - without elevator service (if applicable).
- Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment.
- Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help.
- Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency.
- Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized.
- Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
- Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment.
- If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
- Register for NSP Critical Customer Communication Program if your health is directly dependent on electricity, such as those requiring oxygen machines or dialysis.