Power outages usually don't last long. However, a power outage that lasts several hours can cause risks to your health and safety.
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
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.
Know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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.
In an emergency or a disaster, you are the first person responsible for your safety (French only) and that of your family, as well as safeguarding your property. In the event of a disaster, however, municipalities are responsible for helping the people affected and for taking the necessary measures.
When a municipality's response capacity is insufficient, the Gouvernement du Québec provides assistance (French only) by deploying government resources to facilitate the return to normal, based on what is provided for in Québec’s national civil protection plan.
What to do during
Keep informed with a mobile device that has access to the Internet or use a battery-operated radio.
At any time, you can follow the evolution of power outages in your area on Hydro-Québec website or through their mobile application.
Disconnect all your electric appliances and electronics, except the refrigerator and freezer to avoid overloading the system when power is restored. Leave a light on on each floor.
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.
If you own an individual well, refrain from using water from your well while the system is offline, because this increases the risk of contamination. For more information, see the Be Well Aware web page.
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 to find out about temporary shelters. For more details, consult the page Evacuate your home.
Before leaving, pack essential items for all members of your family:
- Personal hygiene items
- Extra clothes
- Identification documents
- Car and house keys
- Milk, bottles and diapers for infants
- Electronic devices and accessories for connecting them
- Items for the wellbeing of family members with special needs
Keep your pets safe or take them to the place where you are temporarily housed, if permitted.
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.
If you are using a generator, follow the instructions for its installation (French only) and use.
Make sure that the water heater is full before turning on the power.
Turn on the main power switch breaker.
Gradually turn on electrical appliances, including those used for heating.
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 has been off more than six hours, check the quality of food before eating it. Throw out any food that shows signs of deterioration. Consult Store or throw away your food after a power outage or flood (French only) for information on deciding what to keep and what to throw out from your refrigerator and freezer.
For the same reason, do not take any medications that must be stored in a cool place but were not. Return them to the pharmacy.
Make sure the water from your individual well is drinkable by following these recommendations:
- Once power is restored, if your well’s water system has lost all of its pressure, consider your water as non-potable until it has been analyzed by an accredited laboratory (French only).
- As long as you do not know if your water meets the required standards, give it a rolling boil for at least a minute before consumption. Otherwise, use bottled water.
- If you have a water treatment system for your well, make sure it is functioning properly. Contact the manufacturer to know the cleaning procedure required for your system.
- Once you have confirmation that your water meets safety standards and that your water treatment system is working properly, rinse your water lines by letting the water run for at least five minutes.
Pay attention to your reactions and those of your loved ones after experiencing a disaster:
- Anxiety, distress or frequent crying
- Apathy or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or confusion
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Psychosocial support is available to you. Psychosocial intervention professionals are available to support, advise and direct you to resources tailored to your needs or those of your loved ones. Call Info-Social, at 811, and select option 2 to speak with a professional. This service is free and confidential, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on the possible reactions after a disaster and on ways to help you, see the Getting better following a disaster page.
Last update: February 23, 2023