August 30, 2022

Power outages can happen quickly and at any time.

What to do BEFORE a power outage image

You may hear warnings of incoming inclement weather from media outlets or weather services. You could receive a notice from Elexicon Energy of a planned outage due to repair or maintenance work in your neighbourhood. In some cases, work on a construction site or a traffic accident involving damage to a pole or other infrastructure can suddenly shut down power.

In all these cases, it helps to be prepared before the power goes out. Part 1 of this three-part series offers tips on what to do BEFORE a power outage to keep you, your family and home safe.

1. Create an emergency survival kit

Depending on the severity of the damage causing an outage, you may be without power for an extended period. Your family’s emergency survival kit should contain items that can keep you comfortable for at least three days. Emergency Management Ontario provides a list of some things to include:

  • Non-perishable food and a manual can opener
  • Bottled water (4 litres per person, per day)
  • Prescription and over the counter medications
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Radio (battery operated or crank)
  • First aid kit
  • Candles and matches/lighter
  • Extra cash
  • If you have a baby, small children or pets, there are additional items you’ll need to care for them.
    • Baby food and formula
    • Diapers
    • Bottles
    • Toys
    • Pet food and supplies
  • Pack your supplies in water-proof bins or rolling cases – the latter could be helpful if you need to evacuate. Additional items you may need include clothes, toiletries, and sleeping bags or blankets. Store your kit in a place that is easily accessible by family members and ensure everyone knows the location.
  • Be sure to check your kit twice a year and refresh any expired items – food, water, batteries. Mark it in your schedule so you don’t forget.

2. Purchase an emergency generator, non-electric heater, or stove

There have been several major power outages in Ontario such as the 2013 ice storm and more recently, the severe storms on May 21 that kept power off for days. This has led to a surge in sales of emergency generators.

If you purchase such equipment, be aware of the risks. Some generators can produce carbon monoxide, an odourless gas that can cause poisoning, and if not used correctly can lead to severe illness or death. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, keep the generator as far as possible from your home, and point the exhaust away from the building.

The same suggestions apply to non-electric heaters and stoves – read and follow all instructions to ensure safe operation.

3. Monitor the trees on and near your property

High winds and storms can bring down trees and branches on power lines, causing outages. Regularly check the trees on your property or nearby municipal land, especially mature ones, for those that may be at risk. You can call Elexicon Energy or your local municipality to bring out arborists to investigate – before the trees can cause a power outage.

Read the next articles in the series, “What to do DURING a power outage” and “What to do AFTER a power outage”.