Planning for and dealing with Power Outages

Power outages can last days or even weeks and are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds, which damage power lines and equipment. They are also common in the summer months when too much demand is put on the electrical grids. During a power outage, you may be left without heating or air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water.

What you should do:


Power outages can happen in any place at any time. The best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a power outage is to follow these three steps:

  1. Know your risks: Find out the most common causes of power outages.
  2. Make a plan: Work with your family to make a plan so that when a power outage happens, you are ready.
  3. Get a kit: You can buy a preparedness kit from the Red Cross, or make your own.
  • Keep a flashlight with working batteries in a place where it can be easily accessible and where everyone can find it.
  • Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it’s hard-wired to the house's electricity supply, make sure it has a battery-powered back-up.
  • Protect all your sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protecting power bar.


  • Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.
  • Check whether the power outage is only in your home. If your neighbours' power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. Keep emergency numbers, like your hydro company, near your telephone.
  • If your neighbours' power is also out, contact your hydro company. 
  • Turn off all your appliances and electronic equipment, and turn your heating thermostats down to a minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
  • Turn off all your lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.
  • Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it’s absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide.
  • Use proper candle holders (deep, wide holders are best) and never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours (the elderly, ill, disabled) who may require special assistance.

If you need to evacuate

If you have to evacuate your home immediately, grab your emergency kit and listen to authorities. If you have been given an evacuation notice and you have some time to organize your home, protect it by taking the following precautions:

  • Turn off the main breaker or switch of the power-supply box.
  • Turn off the water main where it enters the house.
  • Drain the water from your plumbing system. Starting at the top of the house, open all taps, and flush toilets several times. Go to the basement and open the drain valve. Drain your hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank drain valve and running it to the basement floor drain.
  • Unhook your washing machine hoses and drain.