Some people can live in their homes for years without ever experiencing a power outage. In fact, even in areas prone to serious storms or snowfalls, power loss doesn’t happen that often. No wonder so many homeowners are caught unprepared when it does.
After going through Snowtember here in calgary, one would think people are more prepared. However, that’s not always the case… Supplies may be low or empty and since it just happened, its not your mind it will happen again but just as it did recently, it could happen anytime.
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks.
During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges.
To make sure you’re not caught unprepared, follow these tips:
- Replace batteries in unused flashlights every six months or keep a fresh pair tapped to the flashlight.
- Keep candles and matches in a handy place. Monitor them closely when lit and always blow them out before going to sleep.
- For computers and phones, consider purchasing a power backup. (Some models provide up to 8 hours of power for two or three devices.)
- Know the address of your local fire station and nearest community centre. These are the most common places to find help during a power outage.
- Have bottles of water and some sealed try food just in case.
- You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
- If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
- Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
People with disabilities or others requiring assistance
Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:
- Your evacuation route – without elevator service (if applicable).
- Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment.
- Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help.
- Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency.
- Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized.
- Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
- Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment.
- If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
When the power does go out, make sure the stove is turned off. You don’t want an unattended burner or gas leak when the power finally comes back on.