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What you can do in the event of power outages

Below are some tips to be ready for power outages and blackouts.

What to have ready:
  • An emergency kit in a location where you'll be able to find it in the dark;
  • Flashlights;
  • Portable radio;
  • Batteries;
  • Bottled water; and
  • Ready-to-eat foods that won't spoil immediately (don't forget a manual can opener for canned goods).


  • What you can do to help:
  • Refrain from using water where possible (eg. watering lawns, washing cars, washing dishes, doing laundry and other non-essential use).
  • Turn air conditioners off if practical, especially when you leave home.
  • Where cooling is essential, set thermostats at 25.5 degrees C (77.9 degrees F).
  • Close your curtains.
  • Open windows to draw in naturally cool air if possible.
  • Turn lights off when leaving a room.
  • Use microwave ovens for cooking.
  • Eat cool - consider salads, sandwiches and other cold foods.
  • Fill plastic containers to three quarters with water and freeze them. If your power goes out, move the frozen water containers to the refrigerator to help keep the refrigerator cool.
  • Where practical, dry clothes by hanging them outside.
  • Minimize the use of hot water. Take showers instead of baths.
  • Use appliances during non-peak hours, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Donate blood to Canadian Blood Services. Cancelled clinics due to the power outage resulted in lower-than-normal donations. The area affected is responsible for about half of the country's blood supply.
  • Check on elderly or ill neighbours to make sure they are alright.
  • Don't call 9-1-1 unless it is a true emergency.


  • Safety during a blackout:
  • Turn off electrical equipment, especailly major appliances, to avoid power surges when power is restored (you may want to leave a small device like a clock radio plugged in to help you determine when power is restored).
  • Candles are fire hazards and should not be used for illumination. Use battery-powered flashlights and lamps instead.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel if possible. Traffic signals may go out of service, resulting in hazardous driving conditions. If you must drive, remember to treat all signalized intersections as four-way stops when traffic lights are not functioning.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A full freezer will stay frozen for up to 36 hours and partially full freezers for 24 hours. Most food will last 24 hours except dairy products, which should be discarded after six hours. These estimates decrease each time the refrigerator door is opened.
  • If using a gas-powered generator, run it in a well-ventilated area and not in a garage. Generators give off deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Always refer to the operating manual before setting up a generator.
  • Use charcoal or propane-powered barbecues outside in a well-ventilated area as they give off deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
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