Prepare your home 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.
- Develop a preparedness plan and share it with your family. Be sure everyone knows what to expect and what to do. Have a contingency plan in case power is out for a longer period.
- Make a list of local emergency contact numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.). Include 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) for reporting an outage.
- Prepare an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to find location. Check regularly to make sure the kit is well stocked and that all equipment is in good working order.
- Use surge protectors to protect sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, DVD players and TVs.
- Include a battery operated flashlight in your emergency kit to avoid using candles - they can be a fire hazard.
- Use our home outage preparation checklist [PDF, 374 KB] to ensure you and your family are ready for an outage.
What should be in an emergency kit?
Prepare for the first 72 hours. Stock your emergency kit with these essentials:
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Bottled water (2 litres per person per day)
- Supplies for people with special needs
- Copy of your preparedness plan
- Battery or crank operated clock and radio
- Corded telephone
- Non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods
- Warm clothing and blankets
- Games, cards and books to keep everyone busy
You may need additional supplies for lengthy outages.
Remember to pull out your emergency kit once a year and make sure it still fits the needs of your household. Replace batteries with fresh ones.
During an outage
When your lights go out, check to see whether BC Hydro is already aware of the outage by visiting bchydro.com on a mobile device, calling 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your mobile. If your outage isn’t listed, report it to us when you phone. You can also log in to your BC Hydro account to report an outage online.
Here's some tips on what to do during an outage.
Never go near or touch a fallen power line. Always assume that a line or anything that it is in contact with is energized. Stay at least ten metres (33 feet, about the length of a bus) away at all times and do not attempt to remove debris surrounding the line.
If you see a fallen power line, report the location by calling 911. Emergency responders will work with our crews to make the area safe and repair the line.
Home generators can be useful during a power outage but they can also be very dangerous if they are not used properly. Always follow all manufacturers' instructions and contact a qualified electrician or electrical inspector if you have questions.
1. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odourless gas in the engine exhaust. You may not smell the exhaust but could still be exposed to CO.
- Never use a portable generator, outdoor or charcoal barbecues indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially enclosed area. Never operate portable camping stoves or lamps indoors or in enclosed areas such as garages or carports.
- Only operate portable generators outdoors and at a location where the exhaust cannot enter into your home or other buildings through doors or windows.
- If you start to feel dizzy, nausea, a headache or tired while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
- Use a battery operated CO detector at home. This is also advisable for homes that have a natural gas fired forced air heating system.
2. Prevent electric shock and electrocution
Serious accidents or fire can result when a home generator is improperly connected to an existing house wiring system. Generators that are not isolated can feed back into the BC Hydro electrical grid and possibly electrocute anyone coming into contact with them, including neighbours and BC Hydro or contractor workers.
- It is not permissible to connect a home portable or stationary generator directly to a house wiring system without the proper installation of a CSA-approved transfer switch. An electrical permit is required for the installation and the transfer switch and generator must be inspected and approved by the local electrical inspector. For more information on the correct way to connect your generator and to obtain a permit, please call your electrical contractor or the electrical inspector in your area.
- Never plug a portable generator into a regular household electrical outlet. This can also cause back-feeding to the BC Hydro electrical grid, which is a serious electrical danger to your neighbours and utility workers.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a properly sized CSA-approved 3-pronged extension cord in good condition.
- Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) portable extension cord if using the portable generator to power electrical tools for outdoor use.
- Keep the generator dry and protected from rain and snow.
3. Prevent fire
Improper fuel handling, improperly installed or overheated generators are fire hazards.
- Do not store fuel in the home. Fuels should be stored in properly labelled and vented fuel storage containers in a well-ventilated building or storage shed away from living areas. Do not store fuel near the generator or other fuel-burning or heat-producing appliance.
- Shut down the generator and allow it to cool before refuelling.
- Do not overload the generator.