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Power outage: prepare your home

Presented by PMA Agency

Power outages can often be caused by bad weather like freezing rain, snowstorms, torrential rain and strong winds. Here are a few tips to help you be well prepared for a power outage of any duration.

Basic precautions before a power outage

If your home is equipped with an alternative source of heat like a fireplace or wood stove, make sure the chimney is properly maintained. If you have a dual-energy system, be sure to keep the fuel supply topped up.

A portable generator can also meet your electrical needs during a power outage. Choose a model that will power basic appliances like refrigerators and space heaters. Install the generator outside and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire. Check with your insurance representative to ensure that these points are covered in your insurance policy.

As a reminder of what to do in the event of an emergency, it's also a good idea to prepare a written plan. Discuss and prepare the plan with your family together. Place important documents (e.g. passports, wills, birth certificates, financial documents and insurance policies) in a fire- and water-proof container. The Government of Canada offers an online tool for preparing your emergency plan.

When a power outage occurs, you'll need to have a basic emergency kit handy. The kit should always be accessible and should be replenished as required.

The kit should contain:

  • Non-perishable foods such as canned goods, granola bars and dehydrated foods, as well as a supply of water in bottles that can be easily carried
  • A manual can opener
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Apare batteries
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Emergency candles
  • A portable charger for electronic devices
  • Warm blankets
  • A first-aid kit
  • Personal items for family members (e.g., prescription drugs, infant formula or items for people with special needs)
  • Additional car and house keys
  • Cash in large and small bills, as well as coins
  • A copy of your emergency plan and a list of the contacts to be notified in the event of an emergency.

During the outage

If you have access to a cellular network, use Hydro-Québec's online tool for power outages to check whether the outage has affected your neighbourhood. The tool will also help you estimate how long the outage will last.

Unplug electrical appliances to prevent a power surge. Use any generator or backup heater in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. If you use a backup heater fuelled by wood, oil or gas, make sure your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

To keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible, don’t open them unnecessarily.

Never cook with propane appliances indoors. BBQs and camping stoves should only be used outdoors.

If you have to evacuate your home, Hydro-Québec recommends shutting off the main water supply to the property. Unplug all electronic and electrical appliances and make sure that the fires are out in fireplaces and that all stoves are turned off.

If the power goes out in winter and you have to leave your home, turn off the water heater’s circuit breaker. After turning off the main water supply, drain the hot and cold water pipes throughout the house, including in the dishwasher and washing machine.

After the outage

If you needed to leave your home, make sure you have permission from the authorities before returning. Check for any damage to your property such as water seepage through the roof, flooding in the basement or broken tree branches.

If the power outage has lasted a long time, sort out the food in the fridge and freezer. Non-refrigerated perishable food is only good for six hours and should be discarded after that time. Frozen food will remain good for 24 hours. See the Government of Quebec website for more details.

If the outage lasts several hours or even several days, contact your insurance representative to find out how to file a claim. Some damage like food loss may be covered by your insurance policy. That’s why you should take photos of the contents of your refrigerator and freezer before throwing out food so that you have evidence of your loss when making a claim.

In fact, you can always use the Intact Insurance app to start a claim at any time – it’s only a few clicks away!

Better to be safe than sorry...

You can never know in advance how much damage bad weather can do to your home. Being well prepared for a power outage can prevent some unpleasant surprises. That's why it's also important to have an up-to-date home insurance policy.

If you have any questions about your coverage or would like to make a claim, please contact PMA Agency.

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