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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, log in to 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 you live in an apartment or condo and are experiencing an outage that's limited to your unit, please report it to your building manager or owner. 

Help us get your power back  

If your power goes out, we ask that you turn off electric heaters, major appliances, and unplug sensitive electronics. This helps reduce the load on our system and protects your equipment from damage. We also recommend turning off all lights, except one inside and one outside so you and our crews know when power is back.

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.
  • Don’t plug a portable generator into a standard household electrical outlet.

Food storage and cooking

  • Keep your freezer and fridge doors closed:
    • A full fridge can keep food cold for about four 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 Government of Canada website for information on handling refrigerated and frozen food during an outage. 

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 it 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 Government of Canada website 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.