Winter power outages: Are you prepared?

Winter can bring freezing rain, sleet storms, snow blizzards and extreme cold temperatures. These weather conditions can affect your home by damaging power lines and equipment, often resulting in power outages.

According to recent polling by the Red Cross, 41 per cent of Canadians have experienced a loss of electricity for more than 72 hours. This is the most commonly reported disaster experienced by Canadians, and can quickly make your home inhabitable without heating, hot water or lighting.

Here are some tips on planning for a power outage:

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.

In this short video, Toronto resident Barbara Turnbull shares the steps she's taking to prepare for emergencies such as power outages.

  • 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 precautions.

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