Home Outage Preparation

  • Develop a preparedness plan and share it with your family.
  • Have your grab & go bag and your shelter-in-place kit ready and store it in an easy-to-find location. 
    • Choose manual equipment like basic can openers, non-electric phones, battery, wind-up or solar-powered radios, and a handsaw for your emergency. 
    • Have safe, stable sources of light, such as a battery operated flashlight to avoid using candles - they can be a fire hazard. 
  • Use surge protectors to protect sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, DVD players and TVs.
  • People who rely on life-sustaining equipment should contact their local health provider and consider purchasing or arranging to rent a small generator on a priority basis. 
  • Stock up on fuel for barbecues and camp stoves. Store fuel and appliances safely and use outdoors only. 
  • If you have an electric garage door opener, learn how to open the garage door manually. Follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer. 

During an Outage

  • Check whether the power failure is limited to your home. If your neighbour's power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
  • Call BC Hydro at 1 888 POWERON (1.888.769.3766) or *HYDRO (*49376) on your cell phone. Tell us about the outage so we can send the right crews and equipment to the right location.
  • Tune into your local radio station for storm and power outage updates.
  • Turn off all appliances, including home computers and peripherals, especially those that generate heat. This helps prevent hazards or damage when service is restored.
  • Turn off all lights except one inside your home and one outside. The inside light lets you know and the outside light lets BC Hydro crews know, when the power is back on.

Portable generator safety precautions

Home generators can be useful during a power outage but they can also be very dangerous if they are not used properly. Always follow all manufacturers' instructions and contact a qualified electrician or electrical inspector if you have questions.

  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odourless gas in the engine exhaust. You may not smell the exhaust but could still be exposed to CO.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially enclosed area.
  • Only operate portable generators outdoors and at a location where the exhaust cannot enter into your home or other buildings through doors or windows.
  • If you start to feel dizzy, nausea, a headache or tired while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Use a battery operated CO detector at home. This is also advisable for homes that have a natural gas fired forced air heating system.

Prevent electric shock and electrocution

Serious accidents or fire can result when a home generator is improperly connected to an existing house wiring system. Generators that are not isolated can feed back into the BC Hydro electrical grid and possibly electrocute anyone coming into contact with them, including neighbours and BC Hydro or contractor workers.

It is not permissible to connect a home portable or stationary generator directly to a house wiring system without the proper installation of a CSA-approved transfer switch. An electrical permit is required for the installation and the transfer switch and generator must be inspected and approved by the local electrical inspector. For more information on the correct way to connect your generator and to obtain a permit, please call your electrical contractor or the electrical inspector in your area.

  • Never plug a portable generator into a regular household electrical outlet. This can also cause back-feeding to the BC Hydro electrical grid, which is a serious electrical danger to your neighbours and utility workers.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a properly sized CSA-approved 3-pronged extension cord in good condition.
  • Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) portable extension cord if using the portable generator to power electrical tools for outdoor use.
  • Keep the generator dry and protected from rain and snow.

Prevent fire

  • Improper fuel handling, improperly installed or overheated generators are fire hazards.
  • Do not store fuel in the home. Fuels should be stored in properly labelled and vented fuel storage containers in a well-ventilated building or storage shed away from living areas. Do not store fuel near the generator or other fuel-burning or heat-producing appliance.
  • Shut down the generator and allow it to cool before refuelling.
  • Do not overload the generator.
  • Electrical permits

To obtain information on electrical permits, please contact the Technical Safety BC.

Cooking safety precautions

Portable stoves, lamps and other camping equipment can be useful, but they should be stored, along with their fuels, in a shed or garage that is separated from the house. Liquid fuels give off combustible vapours and should be kept outside the house at all times. Outdoor and charcoal barbecues should never be used indoors. They are a fire and safety hazard and can emit deadly carbon monoxide.

Safety first!

Never go near or touch a fallen power line. Always assume that the line or anything it is in contact with, is energized. Stay at least 10 meters (33 feet) away at all times and do not attempt to remove debris surrounding the line. If you see a fallen power line, report the exact location to 1.888.POWERON (1.888.769.3766).

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colourless, orourless gas in the engine exhaust of a generator and BBQs. You may not smell the exhaust but could still be exposed to CO, so never use them indoors.

If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, get a headache or feel tired while using a generator, get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.

Additional Resources:

Visit BC Hydro to learn more about reporting an outage, find current and planned outages, and additional tips on how to prepare for outages at your home or business.

Visit Fortis BC to learn more about natural gas and electricity safety.