What to do when stormy weather hits

Severe and even fatal injuries can occur by touching or even being too close to powerlines. The flow of electricity through the human body can burn, severely injure or kill. That leaves no room for mistakes – never put yourself in electricity’s path.

Before a Storm

During a Storm

After a Storm

Getting Power Restored

 

Before a Storm

Tips to prepare for a storm:

  • Make sure you have an emergency survival kit ready. Ontario’s Emergency Measures Office recommends every family have an emergency survival kit containing items that you’ll need to remain comfortable for at least three days immediately after or during an emergency.
  • Check the trees on your property and call your local electric utility to trim branches away from overhead powerlines before a storm. High winds or heavy accumulation of snow and ice can bring trees and branches down onto powerlines causing power outages and electrically charged hazards.

 

During a Storm

In the community

  • Downed powerlines may be live. Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (the length of a school bus). Electricity can travel through water and the ground around powerlines. school bus
  • Immediately call 9-1-1 and the local electric utility to report any downed wires.
  • If a powerline lands on your vehicle, stay in the vehicle until emergency responders arrive. Exiting a vehicle in contact with a live powerline is extremely dangerous. Don’t try to help someone if their vehicle is in contact with powerlines. Stay back 10 metres or 33 feet (the length of a school bus) and tell the person to wait until emergency responders arrive.

Around your home

  • Stay warm, cozy and safe during a winter storm. Do your research before buying portable heaters and electrical blankets and ensure they bear a recognized certification mark.
  • Heavy rain or melting snow and ice can contribute to flooding. If water gets into your home, your electrical systems may be affected. If you suspect damage to your electrical system, contact a licensed electrical contractor to assess the damage and make any repairs.
  • When flood water rises above electrical outlets or power cords or is near the electrical service panel, it could be energized. Contact your local electric utility to disconnect the power immediately. 

Using a portable generator

  • Portable generators, when used correctly, can provide security and comfort during power outages. If you need to use a portable generator during a power outage, watch this video first for important safety tips.
  • Portable generators that are permanently installed into your electrical wiring must have a transfer device to protect your home and electric utility workers. The transfer device prevents generator power from flowing back into the powerlines connected to your house.
  • More information about portable generator safety.

 

After a Storm

In the community

downed powerlines and trees after high winds

  • Don’t clear snow, ice, tree branches or other storm debris until the power is disconnected or powerlines are repaired.
  • Downed powerlines may be live. Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (the length of a school bus). Electricity can travel through water and the ground around powerlines.
  • Immediately call 9-1-1 and the local electric utility to report any downed wires.

Around your home

  • Check for flooding. When flood water rises above electrical outlets or power cords, or is near the electrical service panel, it could be energized. Contact your local electric utility to disconnect the power immediately. Learn more about flood safety.
  • Do not plug in or use electrical appliances that have been damaged or are wet until they have been checked by a licensed electrical contractor or serviced by the manufacturer. Hire a qualified appliance repair person to check for and repair any damage.
  • Look out for damage to your home's electrical system - but remember:

Using a portable generator

 

  • Portable generators, when used correctly, can provide security and comfort during power outages. If you need to use a portable generator during a power outage, watch this video first for important safety tips.
  • Portable generators that are permanently installed into your electrical wiring must have a transfer device to protect your home and electric utility workers. The transfer device prevents generator power from flowing back into the powerlines connected to your house.
  • More information about portable generator safety.

 

 

Getting Power Restored

If you have serious damage to your home's electrical system, the utility may not be able to reconnect your power until you make repairs. Even if you do have power or never lost it, you may still have experienced damage that needs to be repaired. In some cases, temporary repairs may be allowed to enable immediate power restoration; however, these repairs will need to be made permanent in a timely manner. 

Electrical equipment may belong to you and not the electrical utility. Typically, a homeowner’s ownership of electrical equipment begins where the wires attach to the house. This means the wire from the pole to the house is generally the utility’s, but the wires inside the mast/pipe, the mast, and those attached to and in the house belong to you. If this equipment is damaged, you need to arrange repairs before the utility can safely reconnect power. You should start this process immediately.

What you should do:

Repairing storm damaged equipment  

(Click to enlarge.)

 

Infographic: How Power is Restored

how power is restored

(Click on image to enlarge)

Infographic: How Power is Restored (Printable Version)

 

The 4 Steps to Getting Repairs Done:

  1. Do not attempt to repair this equipment yourself. Stay back to avoid the risk of shock, electrocution or fire.
  2. Contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor to make repairs.
  3. Once you have hired a Licensed Electrical Contractor: 
      • The contractor will file for a permit with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) so there is a record of the work;
      • When the contractor completes the work, the contractor will notify ESA and the ESA Inspector will confirm work has been done safely and power can be reconnected;
      • ESA will inform the utility that it is safe to reconnect;
      • The utility will reconnect when it is able to do so.
  4. After the work has been completed, the homeowner should ask the contractor for a copy of the ESA Certificate of Inspection for their records and for insurance purposes. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, most home insurance policies would cover the cost to repair a home's electrical mast. A Licensed Electrical Contractor must do the repairs, the homeowner’s insurance policy deductible would apply and the insurer should be notified with receipts retained for the claim.

Temporary Repairs

If you have had temporary repairs authorized by ESA in order to allow power to be restored, these repairs must be made permanent for safety reasons. If this applies to you, you should have received a letter from your utility or ESA informing you that you have 30 days to make any temporary repairs permanent. Please follow the four steps outlined above to have your repairs completed.  

Examples of Damaged Homeowner-Owned Equipment

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

downed pipe         downed mast                  

 

 downed mast 2