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Power outages

​Unplanned power outages occur due to a variety of causes, including storms and natural disasters. When these unforeseen events happen, we work hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible. To keep your family safe and minimize the effects of outages on your home, there are a number of precautions you should take.
 

 Be prepared for outages

 

​Make a family emergency plan and share it with everyone in your household.

  • Post emergency and utility contact numbers in a central place in the house and store your emergency kit where you can easily find it in the dark.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with enough supplies for at least 72 hours and store it in a location you can easily find in the dark.
  • Stock up on sleeping bags, blankets and extra clothing for warmth.
  • Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Protect your electronics, such as TVs, cable boxes, PVRs and computers into surge-protecting power bars.
  • Try to keep phones charged and conserve your cell phone batteries when a storm is in the forecast.
  • Know how to use the manual releases on automated doors.
  • Follow @FortisBC on Twitter for updates on outages and crews working in your area.

Watch for downed power lines

  • ​Storms can cause hazards such as trees falling on power lines. If you see a downed power line, keep at least 10 metres away (about the length of a school bus), because it could still be live. Even wires that have been down for a few days could still be live.
  • If a wire falls across your vehicle, don’t get out because you could become a path for electricity to touch the ground. Stay in the vehicle and call our 24-hour emergency line or 911.
  • If you must get out of your vehicle, carefully hop out and land on both feet, and then hop or shuffle until you’re at least 10 metres away from the vehicle. Then call our emergency line or 911.
  • Visit downed power lines for more tips, and call us to report electrical hazards at 1-866-436-7847.
 

 Electricity outages

 

During

  • Switch off appliances, electronics and lights to prevent a power surge when service is restored. However, leaving one light on inside and one outside will help both you and us know when the power is back on.
  • Don’t touch your circuit breaker or fuse panel with wet hands or while standing on a damp floor.
  • If you decide to use your barbecue or propane camp stove to cook, use them outdoors only. Using them in an enclosed area could be a fire hazard and cause carbon monoxide to build up.
  • A gas cooktop can be used during a power outage to prepare food, but do not use it as a heating source.
  • Use wind-up or battery-powered flashlights. If you use candles, do not leave them unattended, especially around young children and pets.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold. In general, a half-full freezer will keep food frozen for up to 24 hours and a full freezer will keep food frozen for up to 48 hours.
  • Although a natural gas furnace will not operate during an outage, a natural gas fireplace can provide cosy warmth until the power is back on.

After

  • It’s a good idea to wait 10 to 15 minutes after the power has been fully restored before slowly turning everything back on. This gives the entire electrical system a chance to stabilize. This is particularly important in the winter.
 

 Natural gas outages

 

​Fire or emergency officials may ask us to turn off natural gas service as a precautionary measure in the event of an emergency. We’ll also turn it off if there’s an immediate threat to FortisBC infrastructure. Once fire or emergency officials confirm the situation is safe, there’s a series of steps we take to safely restore natural gas service:

  • We assess the natural gas system in the affected area, repair any damage and reactivate the affected system.
  • Our technicians visit each home to relight all affected appliances and restore gas service at the meter, if required.
  • If you are not at home, a FortisBC technician will leave a door tag that provides contact information. Call 1-877-711-8877 for relights.

What to do when you return home

The decision to lift the evacuation order is made by local fire officials after consultation with other agencies, including FortisBC. Once the order is lifted, customers will be able to return to their homes.

  • If gas has been turned off due to an emergency, FortisBC will first ensure the natural gas system is safe. Once complete, FortisBC crews will visit your home to relight your appliances.
  • If the service valve on your meter is turned to the off position, do not turn it on. If you have concerns with the natural gas system, or if you smell rotten or stale eggs, leave your home immediately and call the FortisBC 24-hour emergency number at 1-800-663-9911.

Always call a registered gas contractor

Don't try to put natural gas appliances back in service yourself. Do not use any gas appliances that have been damaged, until they have been thoroughly inspected by a registered gas contractor.​