Be prepared for a power outage
Power outages are never fun to experience. While they usually last a few hours, they can sometimes last longer than a day. Think of the ice storm of 1998 that left many Quebec homes without electricity for several days.
To not be caught off guard, here are a few tips that will help you be well equipped and know what to do in case of a power outage.
Report the power outage
Several weather elements can cause a power outage, including ice, wind gusts or thunderstorms. Animals can also cause short circuits by touching power lines.
If an outage occurs, notify Hydro-Québec at the following telephone number: 1-800-790-2424. If the outage has already been reported, a team member will be able to provide you with information. If you have access to the internet, you can also consult the Ongoing outages map on the Hydro-Québec website.
Prepare your emergency kit
In order to be well prepared if your home is plunged into darkness, it is recommended that you have an emergency kit. It should be stored in a place that’s easily accessible.
Here are a few examples of what it should contain:
- A list of emergency numbers
- A battery-powered radio or a portable charger to recharge devices
- A flashlight and rechargeable batteries; it is preferable to avoid lighting candles in order to limit the risk of fire
- A first aid kit
Visit the Government of Canada website for a complete list of what you can include in your emergency kit.
If you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, these can keep you warm in the event of a power outage.
Most gas fireplaces are now equipped with a back-up battery that allows the fuel to be ignited in the event of a power loss.
As for wood-burning fireplaces, make sure you have an adequate supply of wood throughout the winter so that you are not caught off guard should an outage occur.
In the fall, have your chimney swept by a professional. Sweeping will remove the creosote built up on your chimney walls. Creosote is a highly flammable material that can cause chimney fires, so it’s very important to have it removed. For more information, read our article 6 need-to-know facts about wood heating.
Whether you use wood or gas heat, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working.
Keep food in the refrigerator
During a power outage, we usually think about the food we have in the refrigerator.
During the power outage, it is recommended that you open the refrigerator and freezer door as little as possible to keep the food cold for as long as possible.
According to the government, food must be sorted if the outage lasts more than six hours. We invite you to consult the Government of Quebec website for more information on what foods should be thrown away after a power outage.
Also, make sure you have non-perishable food items at home. That way, you can prepare meals if the outage is prolonged.
Be careful when cooking food
The barbecue can be a good alternative to cooking food in case of an outage. However, it must remain outside your home at all times. Since there are risks involved, read our article on how to prevent BBQ fires.
A fondue pot can also be an interesting option in case of an outage. Be careful when using a fondue burner and don’t add fuel when it’s hot. Use a second burner instead. Also, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy.
Use your generator safely
Generators can be very practical in the event of a prolonged power outage. They will provide you with electricity and heating. These devices can be gasoline or propane powered. It is therefore important to use them safely.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Have generators installed by a master electrician to avoid the risk of electrocution and fire
- To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, a generator must be installed outside the house at a distance of 7 metres from all doors and windows
- Never install the device in a garage attached to a house
- Read the instruction manual before operating your generator
- Allow the generator to cool before refueling
Avoid frozen pipes
In the event of a prolonged power outage during the colder months, it is recommended that you leave a trickle of water running to prevent the pipes from freezing. If the outage is prolonged, other precautions can be considered. Read our article on frozen pipes to learn more.
We hope you find these tips useful, and we invite you to visit the Hydro-Québec website to learn what to do before, during and after a power outage.
Do you have questions about your home insurance or would you like to update your file? Don’t hesitate to contact us; we will be happy to see if your insurance still meets your needs.