Emergency Preparedness: During and After a Power Outage

A power outage could be over quickly but some can last much longer – even weeks during an emergency. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, storms and/or high winds that damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric system. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours.

During a Power Outage:

  • Check if the outage is limited to your home. If not then notify your electric supply company.
  • Turn off all appliances and electronic equipment and turn the thermostat down to a minimum to prevent a power surge when the power is restored.
  • Turn off all lights except one inside and outside, so everyone knows when the power is restored.
  • Only open the fridge when necessary. Food will stay frozen for 24-36 hours if the freezer remains closed.
  • Don’t use charcoal or gas barbeques, camping equipment or home generators indoors or in garages. They give off carbon monoxide.
  • Use proper candle holders. Don’t leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as serious injury can result when the current produced by the home generator is fed back into the electrical lines, and transformed to a higher voltage. Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator. Use only CSA-approved extension cords.

After a Power Outage:

  • Do not enter a flooded basement unless you are certain the power is disconnected.
  • Do not use any flooded appliances or electrical outlets, switch boxes or fuse-breaker panels until they have been checked and cleaned by a qualified electrician.
  • Replace the furnace flue (if removed) and turn off the fuel to the standby heating unit.
  • Switch on the main electric switch (before, check to ensure appliances, electric heaters, TVs, microwaves computers, etc. were unplugged to prevent damage from a power surge).
  • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize before reconnecting tools and appliances. Turn the heating-system thermostats up first, followed in a couple of minutes by reconnection of the fridge and freezer. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting all other tools and appliances.
  • Close the drain valve in the basement.
  • Turn on the water supply. Close lowest valves/taps first and allow air to escape from upper taps.
  • Make sure that the hot water heater is filled before turning on the power to it.
  • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If the bag of ice cubes you left in your fridge has melted or refrozen there is a good chance the food is spoiled. When in doubt throw it out.
  • Reset your clocks, automatic timers, and alarms.
  • Restock your emergency kit so it is ready when needed.

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