An outage is a short or long-term loss of water or electric power. It can affect a single property, a building or an entire community.
Many of Alberta’s hazards, such as high winds, freezing rain and flooding, can damage power lines causing power outages.
Water outages can be caused by extreme temperature fluctuations and pipe corrosion causing water main breaks, among other reasons.
Before an outage
Be prepared for an outage before it happens.
What to do before
- Download the Alberta Emergency Alert app for critical, life-saving alerts.
- Find out where your community will post information and updates during an emergency.
- Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with supplies such as food, battery-powered or crank flashlights and radios, along with extra batteries.
- Develop and practice a preparedness plan for you and your loved ones.
- Store water for your family (including pets) for drinking, cooking and hygiene.
- Have a backup exit plan if you rely on an elevator.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector with backup battery power.
- Have backup power in place for your generator, heat and critical medical equipment. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions when installing backup units, or have them professionally installed.
- If you have a vehicle, keep the tank full in case fuel stations lose power or close down.
During an outage
Outages can leave you without heat, water, lights, air conditioning, information services and vital communication channels. Services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks and ATMs may be closed during an extended outage
What to do during
- If the power is still on in your neighbourhood but not in your home, check your breaker.
- Call your utility provider to determine if the interruption is widespread or only affecting your property.
- Leave one light on inside and one light on outside so you and the utility worker will know when power has been restored.
- Do not use any household appliances that require water.
- Know when to go. If it is too cold to stay where you are, and it is safe to leave, head to a shelter until it is safe to return.
Outage survival tips
Extreme heat and cold can have a greater impact on older adults, young children or those with health issues. If you must remain where you are, follow these tips:
- Head to the lowest level of the building, as it will stay warm longer.
- Keep doors and blinds closed.
- Have extra blankets and warm clothes on hand.
- Use a wood-burning or gas fireplace if you have one.
- Turn cell phones to battery-saving mode and only use them for emergency calls.
- Disconnect appliances and electronics.
- Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed.
Generators, camp stoves or barbecues do not belong indoors. Gas stoves and ovens are not a safe heat source due to possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
After an outage
Outages can create safety risks and cause property damage. Be aware of the risks and take caution when power and water returns.
What to do after
- Do not enter a flooded basement unless you are sure the power is disconnected.
- Keep yourself, kids and pets away from affected areas in your community.
- Never use water-damaged appliances, electrical outlets or fuse-breaker panels until they have been checked by a qualified electrician.
- Check all food for signs of spoilage and damage. When in doubt, throw it out.
- After 24 hours of no power, all refrigerated medication should be thrown out, unless the label says otherwise.
Prevent further damage
- Unplug appliances and electronics before turning on the main power switch.
- Allow the power to stabilize and wait 15 minutes before reconnecting tools and appliances.
- Turn the essentials on first. Start with heat, followed by the refrigerator and freezer.
- Turn on the main water supply.
- Make sure the hot water heater is filled before turning it on.
- Connect with your utility provider for more information.
In all emergencies or disasters, you can reduce stress by being financially prepared.
- Speak to an insurance agent about your specific needs.
- Know your insurance options and policy limits. Make sure your home, vehicle, business and belongings are protected. Talk to your insurance agent to learn about what is not covered in your insurance policy.
- If possible, consider an emergency savings account to cover temporary expenses while you are out of your home.
- If you can, keep emergency cash handy in case banking services are unavailable.
- If you are evacuated, keep all receipts for additional expenses.
- Prepare a detailed list of all your belongings. For more information, see Home Inventory.
- Know the 7 steps for making a home insurance claim. For more information, see Claims Management.
- The Disaster Recovery Program may provide assistance for uninsurable loss and damage.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is ready to answer your questions. Connect with them by email at [email protected] or by telephone 1-844-227-5422. For more information on insurance preparedness visit IBC.
Staying informed during emergencies can save your life. Protect yourself and your loved ones by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert app to receive critical, life-saving alerts.
You can also find out more information by contacting your community directly to find out where they post updated information during emergencies.
Before you travel, check Alberta 511 for current road conditions to help you arrive to your destination safely.
Check with your community to learn how to help others during severe weather events. If you’re concerned for someone’s safety, call:
- 211 if someone is in distress or in an unsafe place
- 911 if they’re unconscious or need medical help
Education material you can read, print and download to share online and within your community.
- Power and water outages
- Severe weather
- Thunderstorms, lightning, and hail
- Blizzards, freezing rain, and ice storms
- Tornadoes and extreme winds