Electrical Safety in Extreme Weather


Strong winds, heavy rain and snow may cause seasonal power outages, power fluctuations, and electrical hazards in communities across British Columbia. Technical Safety BC recommends homeowners and businesses check that their electrical systems are in good working order and that measures are in place to avoid hazards.

In the event of a major power surge, flood or lightening strike:

  1. Hire a licensed electrical contractor to check your wiring system for damage (no permit required)
  2. Have them repair any damage (permit required) and test or replace surge suppressors.
  3. If a licensed contractor has turned off your home’s main power, turn it on again only after the contractor has confirmed your system is in good order.

Electrical safety checklist:

  • Check outside overhead lines for clearance from trees and poles. Contact your utility company (BC Hydro, etc.) or a licensed arborist to trim back branches that are too close.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of your home’s main electrical panel and confirm the circuits are clearly identified.
  • Ensure covers for your electrical panels, boxes and plugs are installed at all times.
  • Look for water leaks that might enter electrical equipment or pool on the ground where you might have to plug in or operate electrical equipment.
  • Check for anything that is cracked, frayed or broken on extension cords, plugs, switches and light fixtures. In most cases, regulations require you hire a licensed electrical contractor for repairs.
  • Avoid overloading circuits. Don’t use plug-in multi-outlets that lack surge suppressors.
  • To help protect sensitive electronic equipment, use certified power bars with surge suppressors. (These are also known as surge protectors and are special extension cords with many outlets.)
  • To provide greater protection, install a certified hard-wired surge suppressor that connects directly to your home’s main electrical panel. In most cases, a licensed electrical contractor is required for installation.
  • Power bars with surge suppressors can help protect electronics but won’t protect your home’s wiring system. If your home is affected by a lightning strike or other high power situation, have a licensed electrical contractor check your entire electrical system.
  • The only way to completely protect your electronics from unusually high power surges is to unplug them. If leaving your home for a vacation, only leave essential items such as refrigerators plugged in.
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