Power outage

Contending with power outages

Prepare, prepare, prepare…

  • Assemble a home emergency kit.

  • Work out a family emergency plan.

  • Place the following items in an easily accessible location:

    • flashlights and extra batteries

    • battery-powered radio

    • candles

    • fondue stove and recommended fuel

    • lighter or matches

    • warm blanket

  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, stock up on fuel.  

  • If your heating system isn’t electric, have it inspected and cleaned once a year by a certified technician.

  • Make sure your back-up heating system meets safety standards, is installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and complies with current regulations.

  • Install a carbon-monoxide alarm if you plan to use a combustion heater (gas heater, wood-burning fireplace, etc.); check it regularly to ensure it’s working properly.

  • Know how to prevent carbon-monoxide poisoning and to recognize its symptoms.

  • If you or your loved ones depend on an electrically powered appliance, always have a back-up power source available.

While the power is out…

  • Check on the situation with a battery-operated radio or a mobile device that allows Internet.

  • Unplug all electrical and electronic appliances, except the refrigerator and freezer, and one lamp per floor. This prevents a power surge when the power comes back on.

  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer door too often so food lasts longer.

  • Offer to help family, neighbours and co-workers who have special needs.

Beware of carbon monoxide

Never use outdoor-type appliances indoors (charcoal or propane barbecues, camping equipment, etc.). They produce carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic gas that you can’t see or smell. Breathing in carbon monoxide can be very dangerous and even fatal.

Only a carbon-monoxide alarm can alert you to the gas’s presence. If your alarm goes off…

  • leave the room immediately
  • call 911
  • wait for a firefighter’s permission to go back inside, even for a few minutes.

Multi-day power outages

  • If it’s too cold, leave the house. If you’re not sure where to go, contact your municipality. For more information, see Evacuating your home.
  • Before you leave, take the following essential items for you and your family members:
    • medication
    • hygiene items
    • change of clothes
    • blankets
    • money
    • ID documents
    • car and house keys
    • milk, bottles and diapers
    • electronic devices, chargers and connectors
    • items for the well-being of people with special needs
  • Tend to your pets or bring them to your temporary shelter if permitted.
  • Turn off the main electricity supply and disconnect space heaters.

Winter power outages

  • If you stay at home, watch for symptoms of hypothermia.
  • Turn off the water supply, drain the pipes and pour antifreeze down the toilet (bowl and tank) and into sink and basin drains.
  • Don’t leave containers indoors that can burst when frozen.

Once power returns

  • If the authorities say it’s okay and your safety isn’t compromised, you can return home. Do this during the day, as it’s easier to see problems and hazards.
  • Make sure your water heater is full before restoring power.
  • Restore power by turning on the main switch.
  • Gradually turn on electrical appliances, including those used for heating, such as baseboard heaters.
  • Open the water supply and faucets to release the air out.
  • Do not open the gas yourself, ask a specialist to do so.
  • After outages lasting more than six hours, check the quality of your food before eating it. See Store or Throw Out Your Food After a Power Outage or Flood to sort through your refrigerator and freezer (In French only).
  • Also, don’t take medication meant to be refrigerated but couldn’t be kept cool. Return it to your pharmacy.
  • Be aware of your post-disaster reactions:
    • anxiety
    • lack of interest or energy
    • aggressiveness
    • increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Counselling can help you deal with the many stressors and responsibilities that come with the situation. Call Info-Santé at 811 and select the Info-Social option to speak to a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.