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Power Failure

In Case of Winter Power Failure

Power failures are usually short-lived. If they last several days, however, especially in winter, the consequences could be more serious, particularly for your health and safety.

Preparing for a Power Failure

  • Always store the following items in a secure location:
    • a flashlight and spare batteries;
    • a battery-operated radio;
    • candles or kerosene lamp and necessary fuel;
    • fondue warmer and necessary fuel;
    • a lighter and/or matches.
  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, ensure you have enough firewood. Install a carbon monoxide detector and check it regularly to make sure it is working properly.

During a Power Failure

  • Listen to the news on the radio.
  • Turn thermostats down to minimum.
  • Disconnect all electrical appliances and electronic equipment, except one lamp for each floor, to protect appliances or equipment from damage due to a voltage surge when power is restored.
  • Do not open refrigerator or freezer doors unnecessarily. This will keep food frozen for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Unless your municipality indicates otherwise, open water taps to let a small stream of water flow and flush the toilet several times throughout the day to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • If you have a standby heating system, use it before your home gets too cold. If a standby heating system has to be connected to an existing chimney flue used by the furnace, turn off the standby heating system before you connect it.

Think Twice...

Never use outdoor heating units, lights or stoves, such as propane or charcoal barbecues, camping heaters or propane stoves indoors. These devices increase the fire hazard risk and release carbon monoxide, a clear odourless gas that can be deadly.

If you Use a Generator

  • Follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Turn off the main power switch before you connect the generator.
  • Set it up outside on a raised base, not on the ground, and ensure that it is sheltered from bad weather.
  • Check to make sure cables are not in contact with water and that connector clips are attached securely to the terminals of the power supply box. If in doubt, check with your electric company and test the setup before a power outage occurs.
  • Make sure exhaust fumes cannot enter your home through a window or air vent.
  • Do not exceed the generator’s current capacity.
  • Turn off the generator and let it cool down before refueling it.

If a Power Outage Lasts Several Days

  • Leave your home if it is too cold. Contact your municipality if you are unsure of where to go. Remember to bring along your emergency kit.
  • Before you leave:
    • turn off the water main where it enters the house and drain the water from your plumbing system. Pour antifreeze into toilets and sink drains;
    • turn off the main power breaker and gas shut off valve.

When Power is Restored

  • Make sure the water heater is full of water before turning the electricity back on.
  • Turn on the main power switch.
  • Turn on the water main and taps to allow air to escape.
  • Do not turn gas back on by yourself; ask a qualified professional to do this for you.

Beware of Food Poisoning!

Check the freshness of food in the refrigerator and freezer:

  • Discard perishable food (dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc.) that has been exposed to temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
  • Discard food that shows signs of spoilage such as mould or bad smell.
  • Never refreeze food that has thawed. Partially thawed food (frost on the surface of the packaging) can be returned to the freezer.

Most home insurance policies contain special coverage in case of loss of food stored in a freezer.

Last Updated: November 12, 2014

Gouvernement du Québec, 2016
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