What to do during a power outage

Flashlight during a power outage

Stay informed, stay safe when the lights go out

Power outages can happen for a variety of reasons, such as bad weather, motor vehicles accidents and even animals interfering with our equipment. Depending on the cause, some can be restored very quickly, while others can last a few hours, or even a few days in the event of a major storm or emergency.

If you find yourself without power, get the latest updates from our crews by checking our outages list or following us on Twitter @BCHydro.

Here are some other things to know:

Reporting an outage

If your power goes out, first check to see if the outage is limited to your home by inspecting your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If there are no tripped breakers and it appears to be part of a larger issue, check our list of current outages or outage map to see if we’re aware of the outage.

If you don’t see your outage listed, report the outage online through your MyHydro account or call us at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile.

If a power line has come down or been damaged on or near your property, treat this as an emergency. Keep yourself and others at least 10 metres away (the length of a city bus) and call 911 to report.

Learn more about safety near power lines.

Help us get your power back  

If your power goes out, we ask that you turn off any appliances and electronics you had on and turn down your thermostat. This helps reduce the load on our system and makes it easier for us to restore your power. We also recommend turning off all lights, except one inside and one outside so you and our crews know when power is back.

Learn more about how we restore power, including how we prioritize outages.

If you saw or heard something like a bright flash or a loud bang before your power went out, please call to let us know. This information can help us identify the cause of the outage and get your power back faster. 

Staying safe during an outage

Follow the below tips to keep you and your family safe during an outage, especially if it's a major storm and an extended power outage.

Standby and backup generators

  • Only operate a portable generator outdoors and in a location where the exhaust can't enter your home.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors, including in a garage or other enclosed space.
  • Don’t plug a portable generator into a standard household electrical outlet.

Get more tips on using generators safely.

Food storage and cooking

  • Keep your freezer and fridge doors closed:
    • A full fridge can keep food cold for about 4 hours.
    • A full freezer can keep food frozen for up to 48 hours; a half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
  • Never use a barbeque or camping stove indoors or in an enclosed space.
  • Check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for information on handling refrigerated and frozen food during an outage. 

Get more tips on food safety.

Staying warm and connected

  • Check in on family, friends and neighbours, especially those that are elderly.
  • Check for updates from your local municipality about warming centres or other local information during an extended or overnight outage.
  • If temperatures are low, keep the heat in by avoiding opening doors and windows.
  • Use LED candles to reduce the risk of fire. If you use real candles, ensure they’re in proper candle holders, keep them out of reach of kids and pets, and never leave them unattended.
  • Help your device battery last as long as possible by following these tips:
    • Don’t turn if off – your tablet or phone actually uses more battery being turned off and on so using sleep mode is best.
    • Switch on Airplane mode or manually disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS features and push notifications.
    • Turn the brightness of the display down as low as possible.
    • Close apps or other functions.

What to do after a power outage

Once your power is back on, we recommend following these tips after an extended power outage:

  • Avoid immediately turning on your heating system and numerous electronics and appliances as soon as the power is back. This gives our electrical system a chance to stabilize.
  • Check food supplies in your refrigerator and freezer.
    • Immediately cook or compost any frozen food that has started to defrost (usually after two days).
    • Check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for information on handling refrigerated and frozen food after an outage.
    • Reset your clocks, automatic timers, and alarms.
    • Re-stock any supplies in your emergency kit that you used.