(Metro Creative photo)

(Metro Creative photo)

Power Outages: Before, during and after

How to be prepared in case you lose power for an extended period of time

The wildfire activity currently taking place in the B.C. Interior has the potential of triggering power loss throughout communities within the region.

Establishing a power loss emergency plan is key to protecting yourself and loved ones, and involves creating a plan in advance, considering potential relocation options, and reviewing resources prior to power loss is crucial.

Power outages can also happen in any place at any time. They can last a few hours or days.

The best way to protect yourself and your family in case of a power outage is to have at least 72 hours of emergency supplies available – water, non-perishable food, medications and personal needs, etc.

Keep you and your family safe during an outage by never using charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide.

The main key to staying safe is to prepare and to have an emergency plan in place.

Power outages are also closely tied to weather. Listen to local news and weather reports for information on changing weather conditions. You can stay informed by following storm warnings and weather forecasts through Public Weather Alerts Canada.

Planning in advance of an outage:

– Have at least three days of emergency supplies available.

– Plan for persons with functional needs such as essential medical equipment or mobility issues. Consider how they may be affected in a power outage – for example, if you are without elevator service.

– Include emergency batteries in your emergency kit.

– Know where municipality shelters are located.

– Protect all your sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protecting power bar.

– If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, like an electrician. Make sure the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.

– Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it’s hard-wired to the house’s electricity supply, make sure it has a battery-power back-up.

– Make sure you keep a flashlight with working batteries in a place that is easily accessible and where everyone can find it.

– Have a non-powered phone available. Landlines may still work without power.

– Keep your gas tank at least half full.

Tips for during a power outage:

– Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.

– Check whether the power outage is only in your home. If your neighbours’ power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. Keep emergency numbers, like your power or hydro company, near your telephone.

– If your neighbours’ power is also out, contact your power or hydro company.

– Turn off all your appliances and electronic equipment, and turn your heating thermostats down to a minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.

– Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.

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

– Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide.

– Use flashlights, not candles to reduce fire risk

– Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads may be congested.

If you need to evacuate:

If you have to evacuate your home immediately, grab your emergency kit and listen to authorities or community leaders.

After an outage and/or when you return home:

– Check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may require assistance.

– Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.

– Check the outside of the house for any signs of damage or danger.

– When in doubt, throw it out! Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. If a freezer door has been kept closed, food should stay frozen for 24-36 hours, depending on the temperature. When food begins to defrost it should be thrown out.

– Turn on the main power switch and gradually turn on appliances and electronics to avoid damage as a result of a power surge.

Learn more at: Power Outages: Information & Facts

Interior Health advise they are working closely with municipalities, regional districts, and the BC Wildfire Service to ensure precautions are underway to protect patients, clients, and residents. Those requiring support during this crisis are encouraged to call the BC Crisis Line at 310-6789.

Everyone is reminded to make preparations for wildfires, and smoky skies as air quality deteriorates. Find more at: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/YourEnvironment/Emergency/Wildfires/Pages/default.aspx

Install the BC Wildfire Service mobile app (Android or iOS) or visit the BC Wildfire Service

Dashboard to find information on current wildfire activity: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status

The FireWork Forecast shows maps of predicted smoke impacts over the next 48 hours: https://weather.gc.ca/firework/

Source: Interior HealthCanadian Red Cross