Prepare your business for an outage

Prepare for an outage before it happens

Preparing for an outage starts long before it happens. Here are a few steps you can take now to prepare.

Keep your account info up to date

When you call us to report a power outage, we’ll ask for information to help pinpoint your location. If you don't have your BC Hydro account or Site Location ID (SLID) number handy, the easiest and fastest way for us to identify your account is through your main business telephone number.

Log in to your online MyHydro account to update your business phone number and keep your online account up to date. Ensuring we have the current contact information for your business will help us answer questions faster, and helps to pinpoint the location of your power outage.

You can also use MyHydro to manage your account settings, bill payments, track your electricity consumption, and more.

What to do before a power outage

Know your building

  • Make sure you know the location of your meter room and electric service entrance.
  • If your building has fuses, know their location and ratings. Keep two spares in case a fuse blows when power is restored.
  • Consider installing an emergency lighting system in your meter room.
  • Have a portable lamp or flashlight and batteries readily available.

Know your equipment

  • Prepare a list of equipment that will need to be turned off during an outage and then reset when power is restored.
  • Contact other service providers (phone, security, fire, etc.) for information on how those systems will work during and after an outage.
  • If you have three-phase equipment, install a protection device and know how to reset it after an outage has occurred.

Have a plan

  • Develop a preparedness plan outlining the operational tasks and responsibilities for your staff.
  • Identify your needs for backup electrical generation and battery (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems.
  • Test your backup battery systems, emergency lighting, phone, security and fire protection systems regularly.
  • Compile a list of emergency telephone numbers.
  • Use our outage plan for businesses checklist [PDF, 86 kB] to create a customized plan for your business.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-find location.

Prepare your employees

  • Make sure your employees know what their responsibilities are during a power outage.
  • Ensure that they have access to your site location identification number (SLID) so they can report an outage to BC Hydro if you're not available.

During an outage

  1. Determine whether the problem is limited to your building or electrical system by checking neighbouring buildings and businesses. If it is a BC Hydro outage, use a mobile device to check the current power outages.
  2. If your outage isn’t listed, report the outage by calling 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile. If you have an online account with BC Hydro, you can also log in to report your outage online. You will be prompted to enter your account number or site location identification number (SLID). Stay updated on the latest outage status and estimated restoration times by checking the outage map or list on your mobile device.
  3. Implement your outage preparedness plan.
  4. Turn off equipment and appliances, including computers and laptops, especially those that generate heat. This helps prevent equipment damage when power is restored.
  5. When power is restored, first turn on the most essential equipment. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting other equipment to avoid overloading the electrical system and give the system a chance to stabilize. Check your facility to make sure everything is operating correctly.

Safety first

Safety should be the most important consideration for you and your employees.

Review important electrical safety information, especially about fallen power lines:

  • Never approach a fallen power line.
  • Always consider a fallen power line energized and extremely dangerous.
  • Stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from downed lines or anything that is in contact with them and keep others away until BC Hydro is on the scene.
  • Report the location immediately to BC Hydro at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376).

Restoring power to your business

  1. We check the overall system and repair damage to generating stations, high-voltage transmission lines and substations.
  2. We restore power to critical services such as hospitals, police, fire, water and communication systems.
  3. We make repairs that will return service to the largest amount of customers in the least amount of time, such as high-density housing and large neighbourhoods.
  4. We restore power to smaller neighbourhoods and individual customers.

Why are estimated times of restoration shorter or longer than originally predicted, or not available at all?

  • Shorter. In some situations, when the BC Hydro crew arrives at the site, they learn that the problem is in an area that can be bypassed. In these cases, power can be restored to some customers on the line right away while the crew fixes the problem. This can significantly shorten the predicted outage time.
  • Longer. In other situations, the BC Hydro crew learns that the cause of the outage is difficult to locate or is particularly complicated. If the outage has multiple causes – which may become apparent only after the first problem has been fixed – the repair may take longer than originally predicted.
  • Not available. Sometimes, such as during storms, our customers are communicating a huge volume of information and the situation can change from moment to moment. In these conditions, providing estimated restoration times isn't always possible, especially early on.