What to Do During an Outage

Outages can happen at any time of year. 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 4 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, plug appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. 
  • Do not 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.