Power outages usually don't last long. However, a power outage that lasts several hours can cause risks to your health and safety.
Before a power outage
Have your emergency kit ready.
Keep the following in a location you can easily access:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-operated radio
- Fondue burner and recommended fuel
- Lighter or matches
- Warm blanket
Prepare a family emergency plan .
If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, be sure to keep a supply of wood.
If you have a non-electric heating system, have it inspected and cleaned by a qualified technician once a year.
If you have a backup heating system, ensure that it meets safety standards and that it is installed in accordance with manufacturer instructions and the rules in force.
Install a carbon monoxide detector if you plan on using a combustion heating system (for example, a gas-fuelled heater or a wood fireplace). Check it regularly to make sure it works properly.
If your life or that of a relative depends on a life-support apparatus that requires electricity, have an emergency power source available at all times.
During a power outage
Keep informed with a mobile device that has access to the Internet or use a battery-operated radio.
Disconnect all your electric appliances and electronics, except the refrigerator and freezer. Leave a light on on each floor. Lower the thermostats to avoid overloading the system when power is restored.
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to ensure that your food lasts longer.
Offer help to family, neighbours or colleagues who may need special assistance.
Be careful of carbon monoxide
Never use devices designed for outdoor use (e.g., charcoal or gas barbecues and camping equipment). These devices can cause poisoning from carbon monoxide, an invisible and odourless gas. Breathing carbon monoxide can be dangerous for one’s health and even cause death.
Only a carbon monoxide detector can detect the presence of this gas and warn you. If your detector sounds a warning, leave the building immediately. Dial 911. Wait for the authorization of a firefighter before returning indoors, even for a few minutes.
Prolonged power outage
Leave your home if it is too cold. If you don't know where to go, contact your municipality for information about temporary shelters. For more information, see the Evacuation page .
Before leaving, be sure to pack all the essentials needed for each member of the family:
- Hygiene products
- Extra clothes
- ID cards
- House and car keys
- Baby milk, bottles and diapers
- Electronic devices and chargers
- Any items required for persons who have specific needs
Make sure that your pets are in a safe location or, if permitted, bring them with you to where you are staying.
Turn off the main power breaker and make sure your backup heating system is turned off.
If you are remaining in your home, watch for symptoms of hypothermia.
Close the main water valve and drain the pipes. Put antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls, and in all the sink drains.
Avoid leaving any containers inside that could burst when frozen.
After a power outage
If the authorities allow it and there is no risk to your safety, you can go home. It's best to go during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. For safety tips and recommendations, see information on how to return to your home .
Make sure that the water heater is full before turning on the power.
Turn on the main power switch breaker.
Open the main water valve and taps to release any air in the pipes.
Do not turn on the gas yourself. Have it turned on by a specialist.
If the power outage lasted more than 6 hours, check food supplies for signs of any spoilage. Dispose of any food that is showing signs of spoilage. See information on what food to keep and what to dispose of following a power outage (French only) for guidance when going through your refrigerator and freezer.
Do not take any medication that had to be kept refrigerated but that you weren't able to keep cold. Return it to the pharmacy.
Pay attention to stress reactions after an emergency situation:
- Apathy or aggressiveness
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs or medication
Appropriate psychological guidance can help you overcome difficulties and cope with the responsibilities stemming from the situation. Call Info-Santé at 811, and then select the Info-Social service to speak with a psycho-social intervention worker. Service is confidential and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Last update: May 19, 2020