Although we at A-Star Electric of Calgary can’t do much about disruptions to the city grid’s electrical service, what we can do is help explain why these incidences happen and how you can get through your time without power safely. A little knowledge and planning ahead can go a long way towards maintaining the integrity of your home or business’s electrical system, plus keep you and your family or coworkers comfortable and secure.
Power outages are most often caused by downed power lines. This can happen because of high winds or the weight of ice and snow toppling trees and branches, or even recently in Calgary a crane accidentally took out some power lines, causing a delay in service. At times like these electrical service providers will turn off transformers in order to prevent further accidents and damage while repairs are being done.
Other causes of power outages include an unexpected power surge to the grid, rain and flooding damaging both above- and below-ground equipment and animals wreaking havoc on equipment.
As well as effectively ceasing all operations in homes and businesses that rely on electricity, for some a power outage can result in even more difficult circumstances. For tall buildings, water pressure can be affected, and buildings warmed by hot-water radiators may also experience a loss of heat.
Planned outages are not uncommon either, where service might be interrupted in order for service providers to perform maintenance and upgrades. ENMAX has a helpful page available where current, recent and upcoming power outages are all reported. Their Twitter feed is also a good source of real-time information.
When You’re Suddenly in the Dark
- Turn off or unplug all major electrical appliances to prevent damage or a blown breaker from the inevitable power surge when the electricity starts back up again.
- As ventilation will be impaired, do not run vehicles in attached garages or underground parkades.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Both will keep food cold or frozen for some time if they are not opened often.
- If the outage goes on for several hours and you have to start thinking about saving your food, use a cooler packed with snow or ice to keep items cool. Always use the food that will spoil the fastest first.
- Do not use camp stoves or barbecues indoors. These give off harmful fumes such as carbon monoxide. Always make sure the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors are fresh and the devices are working properly.
- Flashlights and battery-operated lamps are better options than candles, however if you must use a candle, but sure to keep an eye on it at all times. Never leave a room with a candle burning.
Stock up Your Emergency Kit
Over the holidays there was a massive power outage in Nova Scotia after a major storm, which left more than 150,000 residents without power for several hours. More than a day later, 15,000 people were still without electricity. Power outages can be dangerous, especially in the frigid winter months, so having a well-stocked emergency kit is a very good idea.
Your emergency kit should sustain you and others for at least 72 hours. Items to include are:
- 4 litres of bottled water for each person and each day
- Non-perishables such as power bars, and canned and dried food. Be sure to include a can opener!
- Extra medication for those who prescriptions, plus over-the-counter vitamins and medications to treat common (mild) illnesses).
- A comprehensive first-aid kit that includes a variety of bandages for dressing wounds, antiseptic, scissors, tweezers, a needle and thread and gloves.
- Lots of extra batteries, flashlights and lamps.
- Wind-up cell phone charger.
- Moist towlettes, Kleenex and toilet paper.
- Emergency contact information and important documents.
- Cash and coins.
- Extra blankets and sleeping bags.
- Pet food for your furry friends.
A backup generator can be a lifesaver during a major disaster. They generally run on gasoline or diesel and can power a home or small building for a couple days. Permanent backup generators are larger and more robust, but they are also more costly. A smaller, portable generator can still run the most important appliances to keep you comfortable, plus is easier to store. You should never, ever run a backup generator indoors.
We do not recommend connecting a permanent backup generator to your wiring without the help of a certified Calgary electrician. We can install a manual switch that will safely transfer power over to your generator and only access selected circuits. This will also assist when power is restored, as the circuits that have been overridden by your generator will not receive power until the switch is turned back off.
Insurance Can Cover Loss
After an extended power outage, your home or business’s property insurance policy will likely cover you for losses incurred, such as the cost of food that has gone bad or an interruption to your company’s operations. Read your policy or contact your broker or provider for more details.
Choose A-Star of Calgary for Your Electrician Needs
We at A-Star Electric are a group of certified journeyman or apprentice electricians that are committed to providing the very best in electrical service for your home or business. We offer electrical panel repairs and replacements, aluminum wiring repairs, wiring upgrades, lighting design and installation, electrical work for renovations and overhead line service. Contact us for more information.