As we the days get darker and colder across British Columbia, it’s helpful to be reminded that there’s no time like the present to prepare ourselves for the unexpected:
Whether you heat your home with natural gas, or depend on a constant, uninterrupted flow of electricity, we recommend making plans to deal with weather-related and other unexpected events to keep life running smoothly.
Preparation at Home
Lights: The first items to have ready and on-hand are candles and/or flashlights. It’s always important to include a lighter or matches, and extra batteries for flashlights and any other portable electrical devices in your supplies.
Food & Water: Each person requires 4 litres of water each day, and experts suggest having at least 4 days set aside. Nonperishable food items that can be prepared quickly and easily are also recommended, such as high-calorie soups and other canned foods and meals (like fish, beans or chili), plus trail mix, granola bars and dried fruit and nuts. Don’t forget a small camping stove and fuel!
Blankets: Should power or energy for heating systems be down for longer than a few hours, you’ll need to generate your own warmth — extra blankets and sleeping bags are key, and easy to pack away for such situations. Be sure to get extra covers, as they require no special preparation, are cheap and will literally get you through those cold nights during disruptions.
Emergency kit: The key to any good emergency kit is to have all the essentials required to get you through the first 72 hours (3 days) without light, heat or power for the usual comforts of home. In addition to the supplies mentioned above, it should include:
- First aid kit
- Supplies for people with special needs
- Battery or crank operated clock and radio
- Corded telephone
- Change of (warm) clothing
- Games, cards and books
- Additional supplies for lengthy outages
You should plan to review and update your emergency kit once a year to ensure it is still useful and suitable for everyone in your household, and replace any batteries or non-perishable food items that may have passed their “Best Before” date (even canned food will not last forever).
Pro tip: In cases of electrical power outages, you can avoid total blackouts at your home or business with a portable power generator. A certified electrician is best positioned to assess your situation, electrical needs, and the suitability of this solution.
Under WorkSafeBC regulations, many businesses require an occupational health and safety program, and within that it is required to have an emergency plan for situations that could include a power outage or natural gas service disruption.
An emergency plan provides guidance for all employees so they know what their responsibilities are during a power outage, and provisions for things like:
- Displaying your site location identification number (SLID) along with other OHS regulations, so designated personnel can report outages
- Knowing the location of your meter room and electric service entrance, if applicable
- Having access to portable lamps or flashlights, and batteries
- Lists of equipment that will need to be turned off during an outage and then reset when power is restored
- Access to service providers (phone, security, fire, etc.) for information on how those systems will work during and after an outage
- Your needs for backup electrical generation and battery (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems
- Regular testing of backup battery systems, emergency lighting, phone, security and fire protection systems
- Preparation of an emergency kit and storage in an easy-to-find location for all staff
Fortis BC has created a video to provide an update about recent events related to natural gas supplies.
BC Hydro also has more information on preparing your home or business for power outages.