Prepare your home for an outage

Outage preparation

Preparing for an outage starts long before it happens

We can all take steps to prepare for an outage when we know it’s going to happen, but most often, power outages are caused by factors beyond our control – wind, lightning, motor vehicle accidents, animals, etc. – and they can happen at any moment. That’s why it’s important to ensure you and your family are prepared for an outage year-round.

Here are a few steps you can take now to prepare:

  1. Learn what to do during an outage and after your power is restored.
  2. Build an emergency kit so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage. Check it regularly to make sure it’s well-stocked and that all equipment is in good working order. 
  3. Create an emergency plan and share it with your family so that everyone knows what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.

Use our home outage preparation checklist

Use our step-by-step guide to help you and your family get prepared and ensure you know what to do before, during and after an outage.

Get the checklist [PDF, 86 KB] 

Build an emergency kit for the first 72 hours

If the lights go out, the last thing you want is to be scrambling for supplies. You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, and water. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?

Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet. Everyone in your home should know where your emergency kit is stored. Remember to pull out your emergency kit once a year and make sure it still fits the needs of your household and replace any items that you may have used or expired. 

Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours with these essentials: 

  • Bottled water (two litres per person per day)
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods (for each person in the household) 
  • Manual can opener
  • First-aid kit
  • Medications and/or eyewear prescriptions
  • Ice packs
  • Whistle
  • Flashlights or headlamps
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery or crank operated clock and radio
  • External power bank
  • Portable generator
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Cash in small bills
  • Multi-function tool and knife
  • Garbage bags
  • Duct tape
  • Dust masks
  • Personal hygiene items
  • A copy of your emergency plan and emergency contact numbers
  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences including drivers’ licence, medical care card, wills, land deeds and insurance)
  • A local map with your family meeting place identified
  • Extra keys, for your house and car
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Formula and bottles
  • Medication
  • Extra clothing
  • Pet food
  • Water for at least 72 hours
  • Water and food dish
  • Blanket
  • Any required medications

Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:

  • Your evacuation route without elevator service (if applicable)
  • Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment
  • Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help
  • Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency
  • Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized
  • Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment
  • Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment
  • If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf
  • Games, cards and books to keep everyone busy
  • LED candles
  • A change of clothing and footwear for each household member 
  • Garbage bags for personal sanitation
  • Toilet paper and other personal care supplies 
  • Safety gloves
  • Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, safety gloves)
  • Small fuel-driven stove and fuel (follow manufacturer's directions and store properly)
  • Two extra litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning. 

Have a family plan

During a power outage, some of the necessities we take for granted may disappear, including phone access, electrical and water services. Roads could be blocked, stores might need to close and gas stations can be out-of-service. Taking these considerations into account and making an emergency preparedness plan is important to keep your family safe during a power outage.

  • 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, set-top boxes, media  players and TVs.
  • Include a battery-operated flashlight in your emergency kit to avoid using candles - they can be a fire hazard.

Write down and exercise your plan with the entire family at least once a year. Make sure everybody has a copy and keeps it close at hand.

For more information