Power Outages—Are You Prepared?
From the CCI Review 2022/2023-4 May 2023 issue of the CCI London Chapter
Safety must always be a priority and the Ontario Fire Code (under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997), sets out minimum requirements for fire safety in buildings and facilities, including condominiums, where unless specified otherwise, the Fire Code considers the “owner” to be the condominium corporation, who is responsible for carrying out its provisions.
You can find the Top Six Fire Safety Tips in the CCI Review 2022/2023-1 posted on our website here.
An in-house power outage might be manageable. A fire would likely constitute an inhouse power outage.
A large area outage that is unplanned (especially if coffee or preferred beverage is unattainable), NOT so much. The ramifications of an interruption when you are dependent on the use of electronic devices can be stressful for everyone in the area affected.
Do you remember?
- Posted April 5, 2023: About 800,000 people in Ontario and Quebec were without power. Some outages spanned more than a week after the storm struck. Damages were substantial.
- Posted September 29, 2022: The damages from the May 2022 derecho that swept through approximately 1,000 km of southern Ontario and Quebec (including London) topped over $1 billion. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) ranked it the 6th most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.
Storms happen. Weather experts share warnings on approaching storms that are becoming more regular. Some of them include relatively high gusts in km/h, that may cause power outages. Cold snaps or heat waves, some of them record-breaking, can overload the electric power system. They can cause widespread power outages for thousands or hundreds of thousands of customers for short periods or long periods as utility crews work to restore power.
It has been suggested that systems once largely controlled by localized public entities have been handed over to layers of regional authorities and private companies who don’t prioritize reliability, including maintenance and updating the infrastructure.
Outages can be almost instantaneous or can last days or even weeks. To be informed in advance as to the steps you should take to prepare for such an eventuality can most likely allow you better able to withstand and stay safe in such an emergency because we can’t assume that we won’t be affected.
Questions being asked about our power grids:
- What do we know about the resilience of our own power grid to prevent these outages?
- Is maintenance and budget cuts affecting how we can manage the grids?
- Are we carrying out appropriate maintenance in our own condominium communities as preventatives to outages and extensive repairs?
ARE YOU PREPARED?
From Hydro One – available here.
During an outage
Keep track of the service interruptions on the Web, through your mobile device or listen to your battery-powered radio, if the outage seems widespread. That's why it's so important to have a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit.
- Call 1-800-434-1235 to report the outage immediately so that we can act as soon as possible.
- If it has already been reported, our system will tell you what we know about the situation.
To avoid damage when service is restored, unplug computers, TVs, DVD players, cell phone chargers and any other electronic devices that may generate heat - except for the refrigerator and freezer.
Getting organized safely
If you're planning to use fuel-burning heaters, lights, generators or portable stoves designed for outdoor use, you should know that they can cause asphyxiation or poisoning if used inside, because they have no exhaust system to evacuate carbon monoxide. We recommend that you do not use this equipment indoors.
At home, you can create a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit with the following supplies:
- Windup or battery powered flashlight
- Windup or battery powered radio
- Portable external battery charger for smart devices
- Water (2 litres per person per day)
- Canned or dried food that won't spoil
- Manual can opener
- Batteries for your flashlight and radio
- Candles and matches
- A paper list of emergency numbers and important contacts
- First aid kit
- Any other medical items and prescriptions you require
After an outage - what to do when service is restored
- If you notice any damage to your electrical installations, make sure to have them inspected by a master electrician.
- Gradually turn electrical appliances back on, including heating appliances (e.g., baseboard heaters).
- Wait until the temperature and humidity have returned to normal before turning electronic devices back on (TVs, stereo, computers, microwave oven, etc.).
- Once the power is back on, see whether your electrical installation has been damaged. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, notice a smell or feel heat, turn off the power at the distribution panel (circuit breaker or fuse panel). Call a master electrician for advice, if necessary.
- Don't walk through water to get to the distribution panel (circuit breaker or fuse panel).
- Check the food left in the refrigerator and freezer during your absence and throw out any that has spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit and provisions.
This publication was produced by Public Safety Canada in collaboration with: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canadian Red Cross, and St. John Ambulance. An electronic version of this brochure is available here.
You can also create a personalized emergency plan online with the information provided by the different agencies mentioned in this article. You can save print and update as needed after you’re done.
It’s important to organize a safe meeting place to meet up with family at a designated safe place. At the very least, please check this plan out here to create your own personalized emergency plan online. To save, print and update as need and to reassure yourself and your family that every possible eventuality is covered. You can also do it with your family so each of them is also familiar with the plan.
City of London Emergency Preparedness – available here.
The City of London has a thorough Emergency Management Program in place to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergency situations.
Alert London Notification System – available here to sign up to receive alerts.
In the event of an emergency, Alert London will provide crucial public safety messages. The system is designed to reach you at your preferred point of contact (text or voice). Please provide your name, address, phone number and preferred method of contact (text or email).
A hazard identification and risk management study conducted by the City of London has identified the following potential hazards in our region. It includes:
- Severe weather and other meteorological events
- Major accidents, technological failures, disease outbreaks, international acts.
The City of London has a thorough Emergency Management Program in place to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergency situations. Every member of your family should be familiar with the program.
Ways to use less electricity at home to help prevent a power outage include:
- Using electricity during off peak times
- Adjusting your thermostat to as high as you are comfortable
- Closing curtains and blinds to keep your home cool
- Taking your family to cooling centers, the library, or other public places that offer air conditioning
- Finding activities to keep cool and don’t require electricity like swimming!
How can you help with prevention in your community?
Every Board of Directors has a responsibility to care for the assets of the corporation. This includes the maintenance of trees and shrubs where they add beauty, and help protect the environment. Prevention of them growing into power lines and possibly causing outages can fall in this category. We can’t control the weather but we can make every effort to keep foliage healthy with ongoing tree maintenance and even by having a tree assessment by an expert arborist. A diseased tree may not be evident by an untrained eye. This is not what you want to see on your property; but it was one example of the destruction caused by the derecho in May of 2022.
Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the parttime Administrator of the Chapter.; having served in the position from April 2003 to September 2010. She received the CCI Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006. Trish served as a director on the chapter board from 2010-2015 and was subsequently returned to the position of Administrator.
Trish is a condominium owner, served as a director in the corporation she resides in for a time and is a retired condominium manager.
Her experience in different areas of condominium continues to be a benefit to the chapter and its members.
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