It is always best to be prepared. Knowing what to do in the event of a power outage can help reduce the inconvenience associated with the outage.
Preparing your home
Put matches, candles, flashlights and batteries where they can easily be found in the dark. Do not leave candles unattended, especially around young children or pets. It is also a good idea to store water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit and a battery-operated radio where everyone in your home can find them. Post emergency and utility numbers in a convenient location where they can be easily accessed. Cordless phones or extension phones that require connection to an electric outlet won't work during power outages. Models that plug directly into the phone jack will work.
Waiting for the power
During any outage, turn off all circuit breakers, lights, and all major appliances and, if you have electric heat, lower the setting. By reducing the amount of power FortisBC needs to restore, you're helping to avoid an overload outage caused by the initial burst of power required to get all those lights and appliances going again. Leave an outside light on as well as one light inside the house — the inside light lets you know when power has returned and the outside light helps FortisBC determine whose power has not been restored
When power resumes
It is a good idea to wait 10 to 15 minutes after the power has been restored before turning everything back on. This gives the electrical system a chance to stabilize. This is particularly critical in the winter.
Protect your perishables
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold. If the doors are continuously opened and closed, it will allow the cold air to escape and be replaced with warmer air. Generally a freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.
Protect your appliances
Electronic devices are sensitive to voltage surges. FortisBC makes every effort to ensure protection from potential damage caused by power outages or fluctuations by installing protection devices on our transmission and distribution systems. Unfortunately, there are occurrences beyond our control (lightning strikes and vehicles colliding with power poles) that can result in voltage surges and therefore damage to your electronic equipment. A few simple precautionary measures are listed below to help ensure your equipment is protected during an outage:
- Unplug all electronic equipment and appliances like TVs, DVD Players, VCR's, computers, and stereo equipment
- Turn off your washer, dryer, oven, microwave, and dishwasher
- Turn your heating thermostat to the lowest setting or switch it off
Learn more about voltage surges
- Never touch a circuit breaker or fuse with wet hands or while standing on a wet or damp floor.
- If you use a computer, keep your files backed up on regular basis. Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they are not being used. This way, if the power goes out, this equipment will have already been safely shut down.
- Purchase a surge protector for all of your computer and electrical equipment. If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
- If you have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual release lever and learn how to operate it. Make sure you can lift the door using the manual lever and do this while someone else is around.
- If you have a home based business that relies on a telephone system that requires electricity such as a cordless phone, fax machine, or answering machine, try to plan for alternate methods of communication. This could look like having a standard telephone handset or cellular telephone.
- Keep your vehicles' fuel tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps and if you need to travel to a friend or family's home to stay the night, you will not be able to obtain fuel.
- If possible, put your sensitive electronic equipment on a dedicated circuit. If you cannot arrange a dedicated circuit, avoid plugging sensitive items into the same circuit as devices like air conditioners or power tools - they draw power strongly and disturb the flow of electricity.
- Make sure you have a good grounding system for your home (check with your electrician). Use three-pronged plugs for equipment that requires them. Never remove the grounding pin from the plug.
- Purchase surge protection for your sensitive equipment. It provides protection against potential over-voltage, up to the design limits of the device. It will not, however, provide complete protection against extensive over-voltages, such as spikes caused by lightning. When buying surge protection, make sure it has three-mode protection: Line-Line, Line-Neutral and Neutral Ground.
- Have your wiring checked by a qualified electrician. For certain applications, the use of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is recommended. These units supply power from batteries when they sense power failing. The more sophisticated the UPS, the more types of electrical problems they can handle.
- Fuel-burning equipment (barbeques, camping stoves, etc.) should never be used indoors as they are a fire hazard and can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.