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How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Power outages are usually unscheduled events. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the items below should an outage occur.

Causes of Power Outages


  • Bad weather - such as ice, snow or lightning.

  • Accidents - vehicles hitting a hydro pole or transformer.

  • Construction - such as a crew cutting through an underground hydro cable or trucks hitting overhead lines.

  • Animal contact.

  • Trees.

  • Scheduled Outages

Develop an Emergency Plan


  1. You may wish to visit This website provides valuable information and steps to prepare an emergency plan.

  2. If you have advance warning of a storm approaching, unplug all unnecessary appliances.

  3. Protect sensitive equipment such as computers by using a good quality surge suppressor.

  4. Have a flashlight with an adequate supply of batteries.

  5. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a designated local station. Ensure batteries are in good condition.

  6. Fill containers with water and place them in the freezer. This will help keep the food frozen if the power goes off. Use ice if available. A full freezer of food will keep frozen for 24 to 48 hours. A partly filled freezer will keep most food frozen for 12 to 24 hours. Most bakery products can be refrozen. Ice cream should be discarded.

  7. Make sure the back-up power supply for any life-support equipment (dialysis machines, respirators, etc.) is working and/or procedures are known for what to do in the event of a lengthy power interruption.

  8. Have a safe plan to keep at least one room warm.

  9. Keep at least two to three days of drinking water available. It is not necessary to keep the water in the refrigerator.

  10. If you have an electric garage opener, familiarize yourself with the manual operation so that in an emergency you can get out of the garage quickly and safely.


During a Power Interruption


  1. Investigate if the interruption is affecting the neighbourhood or only your home. If it is only your home, it could be your main switch, in which case you would call an electrical contractor.

  2. Prior to calling an electrical contractor, check your fuse box for a blown fuse or circuit breaker to see if circuits have been tripped to the "off" position. If this is the case, you may have overloaded the circuit.

  3. If the interruption is affecting your neighbourhood, call your local electric utility to notify them of the power interruption.

  4. Limit the opening of the refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Most refrigerated food will keep for 16 hours. Dairy products such as sour cream, milk, cream, cottage cheese and yogurt should be discarded after 6 to 8 hours.

  5. Unplug the television, stereo and other electronic equipment.

  6. Ensure that appliances such as stoves that were operating before the interruption are shut off.

  7. Leave one light on to indicate when the power comes on again.

  8. During lightning storms, do not touch electrical devices or plumbing fixtures until the storm has passed.

  9. Be extra cautious if driving since traffic signals, street lighting and warning signals and gates at level railway crossing may not be operating.

  10. If it is winter and the house has electric heat, lower the temperature setting of the thermostat. If it is summer and the house has central air conditioning, raise the temperature of the thermostat.

  11. Avoid using candles if possible. If used, ensure that candles are in a safe place away from children and flammable materials such as drapes, etc.

  12. Do not use open flames or barbecues indoors.

  13. Avoid overuse of fireplaces that were not designed nor intended to be used as a primary source of heat.

  14. If you receive drinking water from a still functioning central water system:

a)  At least three times per day, run water from each tap in your household for several minutes and flush all toilets. This will help prevent internal pipes from freezing.

If you receive drinking water from a well or the central water supply system is NOT functioning:
a)  Shut off the incoming water supply as close as possible to the outside wall for your home; and

b)  Drain all waterlines in your household. If lines cannot be drained, insulate them with appropriate material.


Once Power is Restored


  1. Make sure that equipment that was turned off is turned back on, but wait approximately 10-15 minutes after the power is restored to ensure the system has stabilized. Turn on essential appliances one by one.

  2. Check the refrigerator and freezer to ensure that they have come back on.


Special Precautions

  1. If you are planning to connect a generator to the electrical service in your home, have a qualified electrician do the connection and have it inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority.

  2. Do not plug portable generators into household wiring systems - it could prove hazardous or even fatal to those in and beyond the premises.

  3. Do not fill the generator fuel tank while the generator is operating.

  4. Do not operate generators indoors or in enclosed garages or buildings.

  5. Do not store propane cylinders or gasoline indoors.

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