Power Interruption Safety Information

ENWIN recommends that customers keep essential supplies on hand in order to be prepared in event of an emergency. Follow these helpful tips to stay safe during an extended power outage.

Before A Power Interruption

Assemble Essential Supplies Including:

  • Keep an emergency food kit in your home. Food should be easy to store without refrigeration or cooking. Some suggested food items include: grain products, canned foods such as meat, fish, or soup, peanut butter, nuts, energy bars, nonperishable milk products and pasta sauce dishes. Keep additional supplies, such as cutlery, dishes and a manual can opener in your kit, as well.
  • Keep enough water on hand to sustain you for three days without power. You need at least two bottles of drinking water per adult per day. Extra water is needed for cooking and washing.
  • Ensure you have a phone in your home that does not require electricity (a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio, or pager.)
  • Keep several flashlights on hand, with fresh batteries and spare bulbs. (Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power interruption.)
  • Keep a portable radio on hand with extra batteries. This will enable you to stay tuned into local media for updates.

Prepare Refrigerators and Freezers:

  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. Place the containers in the refrigerator or freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
  • Remember, water expands as it freezes so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water.

Determine Your Medical and First Aid Needs:

  • Keep a first aid kit prepared, with adequate supplies to keep you and your entire family self-sufficient in your home for at least three days. Be sure to include prescription medicine and contact lens solution for a one-week period.
  • If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • If you require an uninterrupted supply of power, including for specialized medical equipment, you are advised to ensure that you have a back-up supply in place.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

  • Make sure your home has a battery-operated smoke alarm on every level and a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm.
  • You are responsible for notifying your landlord that the dwelling is without electricity.

Home Escape Planning and Emergency Communication:

  • Make sure everyone knows that they must leave the building immediately in the event of fire.
  • Practice your escape plan.

Protect Your Electronic Equipment:

  • Keep files and operating systems backed up regularly.
  • Buy extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer.
  • A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle.
  • Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they're not being used.
  • Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment.
  • If you use a computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an un-interruptible power supply (UPS).

Electric Garage Door Openers:

  • Find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it.
  • If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.

What To Do During a Power Interruption

Outages can happen at any time of you. Here are some tips to help you cope, whatever the season:

  • Unplug appliances and electronics to help avoid a power surge when electricity is restored.
  • Use flashlights. Candles can be a fire hazard. If you must use candles, place them in a non-combustible container away from drapes and carpet.
  • Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Food in freezers will keep for 24 to 48 hours without power. Food in refrigerators will keep for up to 12 hours if the door is kept shut.If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Use barbecues and camp stoves outdoors only.
  • Locate and keep handy your non-cordless phone that works during a power interruption.
  • Listen for radio updates.
  • Check on your neighbours - working together can save lives.
  • If your garage door is stuck closed, pull the emergency release cord that hangs from most door openers, and then raise the door by hand.

Using Generators:

  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Exhaust fumes could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not properly vented.
  • If you use a generator, appliances directly into the outlets on the generator.
  • Do no connect a generator to a home's electrical panel or outlet.
  • Only a licensed electrician should connect a generator to your home's electrical panel. Generators that are incorrectly connected to the power grid could present a safety hazard to utility workers and a potential technical risk to the distribution network and neighbouring customers.

Heating/Cooking and Carbon Monoxide:

  • Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that can be deadly.
  • Devices that burn fuel require oxygen to burn properly and ventilation to remove the deadly products of combustion.
  • Any device fuelled by natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood will produce carbon monoxide. Do not use these devices in enclosed spaces (such as your home.)

Extended Outages in Summer:

If a power outage is expected to last for some time during the summer:

  • Take steps to remain cool.
  • Move to the lowest level of your home, as cool air falls.
  • Wear lightweight, light coloured clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Consider going to a movie theatre, shopping mall, or "cooling shelter" that may be opened in your community.
  • Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.

Extended Outages in Winter:

When a building's heating system is inoperative it may cause freezing of the following:

  • water supplies
  • sanitary systems
  • fire sprinklers
  • standpipe hose systems
  • portable fire extinguishers

If a power outage is expected to last for some time during the winter:

  • If the power remains off for more than one day and the temperature is below zero, store perishable food in a cooler in an unheated garage or balcony.
  • If you use a fireplace for heat, check chimneys for creosote buildup or debris. Do not leave the fire unattended for long periods of time.
  • Close room doors to keep heat in a confined area.
  • Shut off power to the water heater.
  • Shut off water at the main valve (usually found in the basement near the water meter).
  • Open taps to drain the pipes. Leave the taps open.
  • Flush toilets to empty them.
  • Drain appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  • In the event of a severe ice storm, stay in your home for as long as you are safe, warm and can feed yourself.
  • Wear extra layers of warm clothing.
  • Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
  • Never use your gas oven as a source of heat.
  • During extended outages, plan to go to another location (relative, friend, or public facility) that has heat to keep warm.

ENWIN Helps Long Island

ENWIN Helps Toronto Hydro

HOW & WHEN TO REPORT A POWER OUTAGE

ENWIN's System Control Operators are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Rest assured that our Operators are watching the system and responding appropriately to maintain power across our service territory. Additionally, our sophisticated system is often able to detect outages and restore minor interruptions even before customers are aware of an outage. Sometimes, however, lengthier outages are unavoidable.

Our Customer Service center is open 8:30 to 4:30 on weekdays, at 519-255-2727. This number can also be used to report an outage after hours.

Please bear in mind that outages can affect thousands of customers. This may limit your ability to reach us by phone. Should all our lines be tied up during a major outage, please be aware that we are on the job, and making every possible effort to restore your power as quickly as possible.

At these times, it may be best to keep available lines open for emergency situations. Customers are encouraged to listen for updates on local radio stations, follow us on Twitter @enwinutilities, or view details on our Outage Map at ENWIN.com.

We thank you for your patience.

When is it an emergency?

If you spot downed lines, electrical fires or other public safety hazards, treat this as an emergency. Stay well back from the site, warn others and call ENWIN or 911 immediately.

BE PREPARED FOR POWER INTERRUPTIONS

Assemble Essential Supplies

  • Keep an emergency food kit in your home. Food should be easy to store without refrigeration or cooking. Some suggested food items include: grain products, canned foods such as meat, fish, or soup, peanut butter, nuts, energy bars, nonperishable milk products and pasta sauce dishes. Keep additional supplies, such as cutlery, dishes and a manual can opener in your kit, as well.
  • Keep enough water on hand to sustain you for three days without power. You need at least two bottles of drinking water per adult per day. Extra water is needed for cooking and washing.
  • Ensure you have a phone in your home that does not require electricity (a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio, or pager.)
  • Keep several flashlights on hand, with fresh batteries and spare bulbs. (Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power interruption.)
  • Keep a portable radio on hand with extra batteries. This will enable you to stay tuned into local media for updates.

Prepare Refrigerators and Freezers

  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. Place the containers in the refrigerator or freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
  • Remember, water expands as it freezes so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water.

Determine Your Medical and First Aid Needs

  • Keep a first aid kit prepared, with adequate supplies to keep you and your entire family self-sufficient in your home for at least three days. Be sure to include prescription medicine and contact lens solution for a one-week period.
  • If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
  • If you require an uninterrupted supply of power, including for specialized medical equipment, you are advised to ensure that you have a back-up supply in place.

Alarms and Notifications

  • Make sure your home has a battery-operated smoke alarm on every level and a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm.
  • You are responsible for notifying your landlord that the dwelling is without electricity.

Home Escape Planning & Emergency Communication

  • Make sure everyone knows that they must leave the building immediately in the event of fire. Practice your escape plan.

Protect Your Electronic Equipment

  • Keep files and operating systems backed up regularly.
  • Buy extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer.
  • A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle.
  • Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they're not being used.
  • Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment.
  • If you use a computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an un-interruptible power supply (UPS).

Electric Garage Door Openers

  • Find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it.
  • If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.

STAY SAFE DURING AN OUTAGE

If your power is interrupted, these tips can help you cope and stay safe:

  • Unplug appliances and electronics to help avoid a power surge when electricity is restored.
  • Use flashlights. Candles can be a fire hazard. If you must use candles, place them in a non-combustible container away from drapes and carpet.
  • Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. Food in freezers will keep for 24 to 48 hours without power. Food in refrigerators will keep for up to 12 hours if the door is kept shut. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Use barbecues and camp stoves outdoors only.
  • Locate and keep handy your non-cordless phone that work during a power interruption.
  • Listen for radio updates.
  • Check on your neighbours - working together can save lives.
  • Make sure the elements on your stove and oven are turned off. Do not store combustibles on top of the stove.

Using Generators:

  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Exhaust fumes could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not properly vented.
  • If you use a generator, plug appliances directly into the outlets on the generator.
  • Do no connect a generator to a home's electrical panel or outlet.
  • Only a licensed electrician should connect a generator to your home's electrical panel. Generators that are incorrectly connected to the power grid could present a safety hazard to utility workers and a potential risk to the distribution network and neighbouring customers.

Heating/Cooking & Carbon Monoxide:

  • Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that can be deadly.
  • Devices that burn fuel require oxygen to burn properly and ventilation to remove the deadly products of combustion.
  • Any device fuelled by natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood will produce carbon monoxide. Do not use these devices in enclosed spaces (such as your home.)
  • Make sure your home's battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide alarm are in good working order. Change batteries if necessary

Extended Outages in Summer

If a power outage is expected to last for some time during the summer, take steps to remain cool:

  • Move to the lowest level of your home, as cool air falls.
  • Wear lightweight, light coloured clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Consider going to a movie theatre, shopping mall, or "cooling shelter" that may be opened in your community.
  • Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.

Extended Outages in Winter

When a building's heating system is inoperative it may cause freezing of water supplies, sanitary systems, fire sprinklers, standpipe hose systems, portable fire extinguishers

If a power outage is expected to last for some time during the winter:

  • If the power remains off for more than one day and the temperature is below zero, store perishable food in a cooler in an unheated garage or balcony.
  • If you use a fireplace for heat, check chimneys for creosote build-up or debris. Do not leave the fire unattended for long periods of time.
  • Close room doors to keep heat in a confined area.
  • Shut off power to the water heater.
  • Shut off water at the main valve (usually found in the basement near the water meter).
  • Open taps to drain the pipes. Leave the taps open.
  • Flush toilets to empty them.
  • Drain appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  • In the event of a severe ice storm, stay in your home for as long as you are safe, warm and can feed yourself.
  • Wear extra layers of warm clothing.
  • Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
  • Never use your gas oven as a source of heat.
  • During extended outages, plan to go to another location (relative, friend, or public facility) that has heat to keep warm.

HOW POWER IS RESTORED

Safety is Our Top Priority

We work hard to make sure our customers have a safe, reliable source of power. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, an outage occurs. This may be caused by severe weather, fallen branches, roadway accidents, animal interference, equipment failure, or many other reasons.

Our first concern is always safety - for our employees and for our customers. Our system is strategically designed to protect public safety, through protective mechanisms that cut off power to a faulted area - to isolate the problem and prevent further damage to equipment. Our control room operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and our crews are well trained to respond quickly and efficiently. They begin restoring power as soon as it is safe to do so.

Once ENWIN crews have ensured that impacted areas are safe for workers, they will begin to restore power. During outages impacting a significant portion of the community, priorities are established with consideration for the safety concerns of the community as a whole. Restoration plans are developed taking many priorities into account, including: critical infrastructure elements without power such as Fire & EMS stations, hospitals, pumping & sewerage stations; areas with large numbers of customers without power; the severity of damage in each location and time to make repairs. The efficient deployment of our restoration crews is crucial; restoring power to the largest number of effected customers in the shortest time possible is the focus of our plans.

Our principal priority at all times is the safety of our staff and the public.

Estimated Restoration Times

Once ENWIN crews have assessed an outage, they will provide the most accurate estimate they can for the restoration of power. In the case of planned or major unplanned outages, this information will be broadcast through Twitter and on radio. For smaller outages, customers can visit the ENWIN outage map for this information.

Please understand that our best estimate is still an estimate - based on our initial assessment of the situation. In many cases, estimates will need to be revised, as further reports are received from the crews on site.

Often, our system controllers can restore power sooner than expected. At other times crews may face challenges that lengthen the estimated time of restoration - such as difficulty locating the trouble, limited access to the area, dangerous weather conditions or multiple competing restorations.

Restoration times are dependent on the availability of both crews and equipment in the affected areas. During severe storms or emergency situations, things can change often and quickly. There may be times when we are not able to provide an estimated restoration time or update. At these times, we ask the community to remain calm and rest assured that we are on the job and working as hard we can to restore power.

PLANNED POWER INTERRUPTIONS

Why do we have them?

Power interruptions are scheduled throughout the year so that ENWIN can maintain, expand or upgrade our electricity distribution system. They help us continue to provide safe, reliable electricity for our customers, by ensuring our infrastructure is robust and reliable. You may not be able to see the work in progress, but we will do our best to let you know in advance if we are planning an interruption to your service.

How will I know when my power will go off?

ENWIN employs a variety of methods to inform customers in advance about planned service interruptions, including phone messages, mailed and hand delivered notices, and our Twitter account - @enwinutilities. We make every effort to contact those who will be affected - in advance of planned interruptions - so that we can safely complete our work, while causing as little inconvenience as possible to the customer.

As a rule, we are successful in reaching and notifying the majority of those who will be affected. Be sure to update your contact information when necessary, to help us keep you informed. To update your information call 519-255-2727.

However, sometimes circumstances dictate that we must shut down power for reasons of public safety, during unforeseen circumstances - such as severe weather, unplanned outages or community emergencies. On these occasions, it may be necessary to postpone or schedule a planned outage without prior notice. As always, public safety and the safety of our employees is our paramount concern. We thank our customers for their understanding.

Planned outages in progress are also shown on our outage map.

STORM DAMAGE REPAIRS WHO DOES WHAT?

Damaged Electrical Equipment

In general, the customer is responsible for all electrical equipment attached to the home, including stacks and pipes, and the electrical wires they contain. The utility is responsible for the meter and the wires that leave your stack and attach to the power lines.

Be sure to check your outdoor electrical connections after a storm - even if you have not lost power. Severe weather can damage the equipment attached to your home, and neglecting to repair it can pose a risk to you and to the community.

Store Damager Repairs
Diagram courtesy of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)

Take these simple steps to ensure the safety of your home after a storm:

  • Inspect all electrical masts and pipes. This equipment is yours and needs to be in good condition to safely conduct electricity.
  • If you suspect that your equipment is damaged, call a licensed electrical contractor to make repairs and certify safety. In Ontario, only a Licensed Electrical Contractor can perform this work. Using other service providers may delay the reconnection of your electricity, or lead to insurance issues. There are more than 7,000 Licensed Electrical Contractors in Ontario. You can find one here.
  • Once repairs are complete and certified, call ENWIN to reconnect your power.

For your own safety, you should start this process immediately after a storm has passed, providing that there are no downed lines or other electrical hazards present. For more information visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.

Flood Damage

Storms can also cause damage to pipes and watermains, leading to basement flooding. Remember that electrical equipment and wiring that has been exposed to water may be dangerous when the power comes back on. Take these steps to ensure your safety:

  • If water levels in your basement rise above electrical outlets, or near your electrical panel, stay out of the basement and call ENWIN. We will disconnect your power so that your electrician can safely make repairs.
  • Ensure that the main power service in the house is turned off until all electrical equipment has been tested and certified as safe.
  • Contact a qualified electrician to inspect and repair electrical equipment, including plugs, wires and electrical appliances that may have been in contact with water.
  • Replace anything that has been damaged by water.
  • Do not plug in our use any appliances that have been wet, unless they are checked by a certified electrician.
  • For more information about electrical safety at home after a flood, visit the Electrical Safety Authority website.

LOCAL AND ONTARIO EMERGENCY PLANS

Local Emergency Response

Like other communities across Ontario, Windsor has emergency response plans and organizations in place to deal with extended power outages. ENWIN works closely with the City of Windsor, Police Services, Fire and Rescue and Emergency Management Ontario, to ensure the safety of our community during emergency situations.

Provincial Emergency Response

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), in consultation with the Ministry of Energy, can declare an electricity emergency. When an emergency is declared, the province of Ontario and the IESO have an Ontario Electricity Emergency Plan that is activated, out of concern for public safety, the environment, security and the economy.

During provincial power disruptions, the IESO has a three-level alert process:

  • A Power Advisory is issued when electricity is in short supply in Ontario, asking consumers and industry to voluntarily reduce their electricity consumption.
  • A Power Warning is issued when there is concern about the reliability of the electricity supply and when the IESO is implementing emergency control actions, asking all consumers to immediately reduce electricity consumption. An unforeseen increase in demand or reduction in supply may result in the need to implement load shedding - a disruption of the supply of electricity to customers across the province, on a rotating basis, for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the extent of the electricity shortfall. Advance notice may not be possible.
  • A Power Emergency is issued as a last resort when the province must initiate load shedding.

More information about Ontario emergency preparedness and response is available on the IESO Website

Information courtesy of the IESO.

Life Support Notification

If you or a loved one requires uninterrupted electrical power service for medical equipment (such as a ventilator or kidney dialysis machine), click here to learn more.

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