Power Outages and Electrical Safety
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last for days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds, which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system. It’s important to be prepared for extended power outages, and to know how to speed up the power restoration process.
Storm-related electrical hazards
- If you were cooking when the power went out, turn off the stove, oven or other cooking appliances right away;
- Downed powerlines and flooding create electrical hazards in and around your home. Remember to stay back at least 10 metres (the length of a school bus) from a downed powerline. Call 9-1-1 and your local utility immediately to report it; and
- Stay out of your basement if flood water is higher than the electrical outlets, baseboard heaters or furnace, or near the electrical panel. Call your local electric utility immediately to have power disconnected.
Ontario’s Emergency Measures Office recommends every family have an emergency survival kit. This will keep you comfortable for at least three days right after or during an emergency. Build your emergency kit.
Getting power restored after a storm
Your local electric utility fixes the powerlines and other electrical equipment to restore power. As a homeowner, you are responsible for having repairs done to your own equipment.
If you have serious damage to your home's electrical system, the utility may not be able to reconnect your power until you repair it. Even if you do have power or never lost it, you may still have damage that needs repair. Find out what you need to do to have power restored to your house.
Severe storms can cause widespread damage to powerlines and hydro poles owned by the utility. ESA works closely with utilities to get the necessary repairs done and power back on.
Storms can also damage the equipment that connects your home to the electricity grid. Licensed Electrical Contractors are the only ones authorized to repair this type of equipment. ESA works closely with Licensed Electrical Contractors to safely reconnect homes to the grid, avoiding the risk of shock or fire.
If your home’s electrical connection is damaged, contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do the repairs. You can find one near you through our Contractor Lookup Tool.
Hire someone who can legally do electrical work in Ontario.
Getting Repairs Done
Only hire Licensed Electrical Contractors to do residential electrical repairs. They will file a notification with ESA, which generates an official record of the work. Hiring anyone other than a Licensed Electrical Contractor will delay having your power restored.
Once you have hired a Licensed Electrical Contractor:
- The contractor will file a notification with ESA so there is a record of the work.
- When contractors complete repairs, they will notify ESA.
- The contractor will get a copy of the ESA Certificate of Inspection. Homeowners, get a copy of this from the contractor or ESA for your insurance company.