Alectra Utilities (formerly PowerStream) is committed to providing our customers with safe and reliable electricity distribution services. However power outages or electrical emergencies can occur without warning and we encourage you to plan ahead and be prepared.
Follow the links below to help you prepare and plan for a power outage and to know what to do:
Local emergency responders also recommend that residents plan to be self-sufficient for 72 hours in an emergency situation.
Have at least one telephone with an attached handset for emergency communications. Cordless telephones do not work when the power is out.
Build an emergency kit. Emergency supplies are a must and a special place, easily accessible in the dark, should be set aside just for them. Here is a list of basic components to help you begin to assemble your emergency kit:
- flashlights and fresh batteries
- chemical light sticks
- candles, candle holders and matches or lighter
- cell phone, radio and clock (wind-up or battery operated)
- telephone with an attached handset
- extra blankets, coats, hats and gloves
- first aid kit
- non-perishable foods, easily prepared foods like snacks and canned and dried goods
- bottled water
- plastic garbage bags (for sanitary purposes)
- disposable tableware and cutlery
- manual can and bottle openers
- prescription drugs and contact lens solution
- extra cash
- extra car key
- sleeping bags
- toilet paper, diapers and other personal toiletries
- a loud whistle (if you need to attract attention)
What else might you need? To build a complete disaster supplies kit, the Red Cross provides Build a Kit and other emergency preparedness information at www.redcross.ca/prepare.
Make sure your home has a battery operated smoke alarm on every level and a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms electrically connected to your home’s power supply will not work when the electricity is off, unless they have battery back-ups.Test your smoke alarms to find out if they work.
Ensure there is always sufficient fuel in your vehicle to meet possible emergency travel needs.
Install surge protection devices on sensitive equipment such as televisions, computers, microwave ovens and fax machines to help protect them from surges when power is restored.
If someone in your household uses life support equipment, make arrangements for a back-up power supply or transportation to another facility in the event of a power outage.
If you have a garage door opener, familiarize yourself with the manual operation of the unit so that in an emergency you can get out of the garage quickly and safely.
If you are considering purchasing a standby portable generator, follow this link to Important Information from the Electrical Safety Authority.
If your power goes out unexpectedly, check your circuit breakers or fuses. If a circuit has tripped or a fuse has blown, reset the breaker or replace the fuse to restore your power. If you still have no power, call Alectra Utilities at 1-877-963-6900 to report a power outage or hear when service will be restored. This service has the capability to handle thousands of incoming calls at one time.
Ensure that all stove elements and ovens are turned OFF and that nothing has been placed on top of the stove. Use flashlights and chemical light sticks for alternative lighting.
Use extreme caution when using candles and lanterns for alternative lighting and follow these important fire safety rules from the Ontario Fire Marshal.
- Place in secure candleholders, protected by a glass chimney.
- Keep candles away from all combustible materials, such as draperies, paper, etc.
- Place them out of reach of children and pets.
- Avoid walking with a lit candle or taking it into a closet or similar area to look for things.
- Extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Never leave them unattended.
Lanterns and Oil Lamps:
- Place lamps and lanterns in a secure place where they cannot be knocked over by children or pets.
- Keep them away from combustibles and windy areas.
- Refill lamps and lanterns outdoors away from combustibles and other people.
- Before going to bed, make sure that all lamps are out.
Matches and Lighters:
- Keep all matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children, preferably locked away.
Never use charcoal or gas barbeques, camping heating equipment, or standby generators indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas is produced by any device fuelled by natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood.
Unplug as many appliances as possible. This helps to stabilize the electricity distribution system when power is restored. Unplug electronic equipment to avoid damage when power is restored. Televisions, computers, microwave ovens and answering machines are sensitive to surges when the power is restored. Leave one light on so you know when power is restored. To supply air to a fish tank, use a small bicycle pump.
Do not open the freezer door unless absolutely necessary. A partly filled freezer will keep most food frozen for 12 - 24 hours. In a full freezer, food will remain frozen for 24 - 48 hours. Don’t let the cold air escape from your refrigerator. Keep the door closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for at least four hours. If available, add ice to the refrigerator to keep the food at a safe temperature if the power will be out for a long period of time.
Avoid downed power lines. Don’t allow anyone to touch or drive over a power line – even an experienced power lineperson can’t tell if a line is energized just by looking at it. Always assume a downed line is “live”, even if it’s not jumping or sparking.
Do not enter a flooded home or building. If your home or business is flooded, never enter standing water unless you’re absolutely sure the main power has been shut off.
If you have a portable generator, operate it outdoors only, positioned carefully to ensure that fumes do not enter the building.
- Generators and hot gases should be kept away from combustibles.
- Store fuel for the generator outside in an approved container a safe distance away from the building and generator.
- Refuel only after shutting it down and letting it cool. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations regarding use.
If using portable space heaters, woodstoves or fireplaces for alternative home heating, follow these important fire safety rules from the Ontario Fire Marshal:
Portable Space Heaters:
- Use only CSA approved portable space heaters that have been designed for indoor use.
- Before using one, review the manufacturer's recommendations for usage and follow the instructions carefully. Only use the fuel for which the appliance was designed.
- Provide adequate ventilation by opening a window slightly, when the heater is in use.
- Before refueling, turn off the heater, wait for it to cool and take the heater outside to refill.
- Keep all heaters at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from combustible materials including drapes, carpeting and furniture.
- Turn portable space heaters off when you are not in the room and before going to bed.
Woodstoves and Fireplaces:
- If you are using a wood stove, always empty ashes into a covered metal container and store them outside, away from combustibles.
- If you have not used the fireplace or woodstove for a long time, have it checked by a professional technician before using it. The chimney may be blocked or damaged, which could cause a fire or a build-up of carbon monoxide inside the building.
Use extreme caution when cleaning up storm damage on your property. Downed or damaged power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences, so survey the area carefully - especially if you'll be using a pruning pole, axe or chainsaw.
Please do not attempt to assist emergency and utility crews. In an emergency situation, if you would like to assist with recovery and clean-up efforts, it’s best to contact your local Red Cross to see where help is needed most.
Plug in only the most essential appliances. Waiting 10 -15 minutes before plugging in and turning on equipment such as refrigerators and air conditioning units gives the power system time to stabilize.
Check to make sure the freezer and refrigerator are working and what food can be refrozen:
- Meat that has ice crystals remaining in it may be refrozen.
- Most bakery products can be refrozen.
- Ice cream is an exception and should be discarded.
- Dairy products such as milk, cream, cottage cheese, yogurt and sour cream should be discarded after 6 - 8 hours.
Restock your emergency kit and return it to its regular storage place.