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
fondue stove and recommended fuel
lighter or matches
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:
- hygiene items
- change of clothes
- 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:
- lack of interest or energy
- 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.