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How to prepare for summer power outages

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Summer is here: long days, full sun, hot weather. With that comes our almost natural impulse to pump our air conditioning, fans, or anything to alleviate heat and humidity. Now, with more people at home, and active weather systems, the risk of power outages increases in the summertime.
 
Due to COVID-19, more people are at home at all times of the day. On hot days, overload to power grids often happen. However, whether it’s due to a grid failure or a thunderstorm, power outages can leave you without air conditioning, lighting, hot water or even running water – and they can last for days or even weeks. Do you feel ready for a power outage this summer?
 
Here are some tips to help you prepare:
 

Before

  • Keep a flashlight handy. If it’s battery-operated, make sure you have extra batteries handy (it’s hard looking for batteries without much light in a power outage), or have a wind-up flashlight.
  • Get a battery-powered or wind-up radio.
  • Protect all your sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protecting power bar.
  • Check your municipality for availability of cooling centres; some are opening up to help provide cold shelter for those in need, subject to COVID-19 protocols in the region.
  1. Know your risks: Find out the most common causes of power outages in your area.
  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: Have essentials ready in an easy-to-find location. You can buy a preparedness kit from the Red Cross or make your own
 

During

  • Check whether the power outage is only in your home. If it is just your house, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If that’s not the problem, check the service wires leading to the house. If they look damaged or are on the ground, stay at least 10 metres back and notify your hydro company.
  • Turn off all your appliances and electronic equipment, and turn your heating thermostats down to prevent damage from a power surge.
  • Turn off all your lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know when power has been restored.
  • Don’t open your freezer or fridge unless it is necessary. A freezer will keep food frozen for up to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Never use barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.

After

  • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize before reconnecting tools and appliances. Turn the heating-system thermostats up first, followed in a couple of minutes by reconnection of the fridge and freezer. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting all other tools and appliances.
  • Close the drain valve in the basement.
  • Turn on the water supply.
  • Make sure that the hot water heater is filled before turning on the power to it.
  • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage.
Power outages are common, especially in the summertime so ensure you and your loved ones are prepared. Find more information on what to do before, during and after a power outage.

Check out this video on living without power for 24 hours:
 

 
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