Don’t wait for an emergency before you think about how you and your family are going to survive. Follow our steps below and at getprepared.gc.ca. Consult your insurance company to understand what events are covered and how a claim would affect your policy. Most policies can cover damage from earthquakes, storms, groundwater flooding, power outages, and wildfires, make sure yours does.

When an emergency happens don’t take unnecessary risks or suffer needlessly, BE READY!

Download the Red Cross Be Ready App to get real-time alerts about local hazards & useful tips.

IF YOU SEE AN URGENT ISSUE WITH A HYDRO LINE TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. CALL 1-800-434-1235

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YOU CAN HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF BLACKOUT

As with wildfires, blackout risk can also be reduced by the management of foliage. ​

When there are strong winds or violent storms, a tree or branch that falls onto system elements can cause a power outage that sometimes affects many customers. Since the most violent storms occur between June and August, it’s not surprising that most power outages happen during the summer. In winter, heavy snow or freezing rain can also bend branches or trees to the point that they fall onto power lines, causing outages.

Hydro One and Ottawa Hydro forestry inspectors monitor and gather data about trees near overhead power lines and they will trim those that are directly in contact with a power line or near a power line. Reporting trees that may be a risk to the power lines is everyone's responsibility. 

Call 911 when you feel the situation threatens public security or someone’s personal safety. The appropriate authorities and hydro companies will be notified at the same time and assistance will be dispatched.

These are the most frequent situations in which it is best to call 911:

  • Broken power lines

  • Power lines within reaching distance

  • Transformer or pole on fire

  • Traffic accident

NEVER APPROACH A POWER LINE — ALWAYS ASSUME IT’S LIVE. IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!

HISTORICAL BLACKOUTS

In 2003 a widespread blackouttriggered by overgrown trees near a power line, affected an estimated 55 million people, some of whom were without power for 4 days. While for many people it was considered more of a nuisance than an emergency, there were many vulnerable people who were severely affected; it is estimated that nearly 100 people lost their lives as a consequence of the blackout. These deaths were attributed to accidents, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, and  the effects of the blackout on those with chronic health issues. By preparing for blackout households can greatly reduce their associated risks. 

   

In 1998 an estimated 4.5 million people were affected by a blackout from the Great Ice Storm. Due to the extensive damage to the electrical infrastructure, it took up to 33 days to restore power to all of the affected areas. A winter blackout has a greater likelihood of adverse effects and during this time 35 people lost their lives as a direct consequence of the storm. Carbon monoxide poisoning was again a major cause of death but with this blackout, hypothermia, falling ice and fire also caused great harm

Being prepared for a blackout greatly reduces your risk of negative outcomes.

Please take some time to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe in the event of a disaster. 

TAKE ACTION NOW 

Add your electrical utility app or number to your phone. 

Hydro One App 

Hydro One Phone: 1-800-434-1235

Hydro Ottawa App

Hydro Ottawa Phone: 613-738-0188

 

UNDERSTAND YOUR INSURANCE POLICY

  • Speak to your insurance company to understand what living expense and damage coverage you have in the event of an extended blackout and how a claim will affect your policy. 

  • Some common issues that can arise during an extended blackout:

    • Damage from falling trees during high winds or freezing rain

    • Damage to electrical systems and appliances from a power surge

    • Water backing up into basement from failed sump pumps

    • Food spoilage

    • Hotel and other living costs if the home is not liveable during the blackout

  • Please note: insurance does not generally cover the costs of damage arising from the freezing of indoor plumbing. Be proactive: if a blackout happens when the temperature outside is below freezing, turn off your well pump and drain water lines to avoid costly damage that is not likely to be insured.

  • Discussions with your insurance company will allow you to prioritize retrofits to your home. Investing in upgrades to your home that protect against damages not covered by insurance will help to limit expensive repairs in the future.

STORE EXTRA WATER​​

  • If you are on a well and an outage is predicted:

    • Fill several large or many small containers with water for drinking and personal hygiene.

    • Fill your bathtub with water. 

  • To flush your toilet during an outage:

    • Use a medium or large container to scoop water from your bathtub into the toilet bowl.

  • Full fridges and freezers are more efficient and last longer:

    • Fill up extra space with containers of ice and water.

FOLLOW LOCAL MEDIA 

  • Listen to local news and weather for information on changing conditions

  • Download the Red Cross Be Ready Ap

  • Follow information posted on your hydro companies' website or app.

PLAN AHEAD

  • Acquire a few LED flashlights and/or headlamps and place them in an accessible location with the items below.
  • Ensure your Household Disaster Plan is up-to-date to ensure you know where your family & pets can go and how to communicate with each other in the event you are separated. 
  • If evacuation becomes necessary, have the items on your Evacuation Checklist ready and waiting at the door. 
  • Keep a small amount of cash on hand. Businesses may not be able to accept card payments and ATM machines are likely to be down in the affected areas.
  • Share your plan with your neighbours. As access roads may become closed, they may need to help your family if you are at work and cannot reach your home in time.

  • Evacuation is often unnecessary. The Red Cross recommends that you keep an ​​Emergency Supply Kit in your home with enough supplies to meet your family’s needs for a least 72 hours.

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CHECK HOME SYSTEMS

  • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are operational, have fresh batteries and are not close to expiring. It is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. If buying new smoke detectors, upgrade to include CO.

  • ​Have a landline phone that works during an outage or a cell phone available and charged.

  • Know how to drain the water from your plumbing and how to turn off your well pump or water supply.

  • Check that your sump pump is functioning normally and if possible is either on a battery backup or compatible with your generator.

  • Make it a habit to fill your gas & propane tanks before they are empty.

  • Ensure your electrical panel is properly labelled. 

  • Remove trees or large tree limbs that are close to your home that may cause damage if fallen by high winds or freezing rain.

GENERATOR

  • Visit ESA.ca for more information on generator safety.
  • If you are in the market for a generator contact a qualified vendor or electrician to help you determine what generator is best suited to your needs.
  • Before using, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure your generator is accessible and filled with gas and fuel stabilizer.
  • Generators should be tuned up regularly. 

AT FIRST SIGN OF A POWER OUTAGE

Check whether the power outage is limited to your home:

  • If your neighbours' power is also out check your surroundings to ensure there is no emergency situation present that will require immediate action; if there is none call Hydro One at 1-800-434-1235 or Hydro Ottawa at 613-738-0188 to report the outage. (take action now, add the number of your service provider to your phone)

 
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IN CASE OF EMERGENCY If you see damage to power lines, smoke, fire or an accident ensure you are safe, call 911, and then enact your Household Disaster Plan

ENACT YOUR PLAN

 

PRESERVE FOOD

  • Left unopened, a refrigerator will stay cold for about four hours, a full freezer can last 48 hours.

  • Use perishable food first.

  • Open doors of refrigerators and freezers sparingly.

CHECK ON NEIGHBOURS

  • Check on vulnerable family members and neighbours to ensure they have the latest information and are prepared. 

  • Share your situation and plans often with family so they know where you are in case of an emergency situation.

  • Many social media sites have a check-in option to help families keep connected, help your neighbours stay connected too. 

PROTECT YOUR ELECTRONICS

  • Unplugging electronic devices (TVs, computers etc) and appliances will offer protection if there is lightning or an electrical surge.

  • Turn off thermostats for the home heating/cooling system to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored.

  • Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.

  • Ensure you are using your generator according to the manufacturer's requirements.

    • Do not overload

    • Do not ever run a generator indoors

    • Do not run near a window that can be opened, if the window is open carbon monoxide can enter the home. 

MONITOR MEDIA UPDATES

  • Tune in to local media and follow the directions provided by the authorities.

  • Keep up-to-date with the Hydro One or Hydro Ottawa Apps or website, your community Social Media sites, and for extended outages Ottawa.ca or WestCarletonRelief.ca.

 

BE SAFE WATCH FOR HAZARDS

  • To reduce the fire risk, use battery-operated lights and flashlights. If candles need to be used, use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep them out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.

  • Beware of carbon monoxide (CO) and have a working CO detector. If it is hard-wired to the house's electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.

  • Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heaters, or generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.

  • Before allowing children or pets outside, check the condition of nearby power lines, and large trees.

  • If your neighbours' power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or a line on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. 

 

RECONNECTING YOUR SYSTEMS

  • Turn the heating-system thermostats up first, followed in a couple of minutes by reconnection of the fridge and freezer. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting other tools, appliances or electronics.

  • If the outside temperature has been below freezing, allow your home to warm up completely before turning the well pump or water supply on. 

  • Inspect the house for burst pipes, if you suspect damaged plumbing or burst pipes contact a qualified plumber before you attempt to restart your system. If there are no visible signs of damaged pipes and you do not suspect burst pipes, slowly start up your system. Check our slow restart guide.

DOCUMENT DAMAGE

  • Take a visual inventory of any damage both outside and inside.

  • Document details of any damage. 

  • Contact your insurance provider to share this information.

  • If your home has been near freezing, a pipe may have frozen & burst, see the section above for more details.

CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBOURS

  • Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours to make sure their power is also back on.

  • Help those who are vulnerable to ensure they are not compromising their health (ie eating spoiled food) or risking damage to their property (ie burst pipes).

DO NOT EAT SPOILED FOOD

  • If you are unsure throw it out, yes even that $40 roast, it is not worth the risk to your health.

  • Check food supplies in refrigerators and freezers for signs of spoilage, thawing, or re-freezing.

  • If your freezer has been off for 48 hours (24 hours if half-full) or food shows signs of having defrosted it should be thrown out.

ELECTRONICS

  • If you need to reset a circuit breaker be sure to unplug all your electrical devices first. A power surge can damage most appliances, motors and electronics.

  • Be sure to test everything and report any damage to your Insurance as necessary.

CHECK FOR UPDATES

  • It is common after a major unscheduled outage for hydro companies to schedule a second outage to make permanent repairs. You should be notified, however, it is best to:

    • Check-in on your Community & City Councillor's Social Media groups for updates.

    • Follow WCDR on Facebook or Twitter

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