Gas and Electrical Safety in Extreme Weather

 

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

Before the storm:

  • 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 to overhead lines.
     
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of your home’s main electrical panel and confirm the circuits are clearly identified.
     
  • Make sure any external electrical panels, boxes and plugs have covers which stay closed.
     
  • To protect against power surges:
    • Avoid overloading circuits. Don’t use plug-in multi-outlets that lack surge suppressors.
    • Only use Canadian-certified power bars with surge suppressors. These are also known as surge protectors and are special extension cords with many outlets.
    • Consider installing a Canadian-certified hard-wired surge suppressor directly to your home’s main electrical panel. In most cases, a licensed electrical contractor is required for installation.
    • 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.
       
  • Secure propane tanks to a stable structure to keep them from floating away in the event of a flood.
     

After the storm:

  • Look for electrical or gas equipment which may have been exposed to flood waters. Never turn these items on until they have been looked at by a licensed gas or electrical contractor. For example, air conditioners, heat pumps, etc. 
     
  • If your home was affected by a lightning strike or other high power situation, have a licensed electrical contractor check your entire electrical system.
     
  • If your power is out due to a downed power line, or your utility has turned it off, you may be required to have an electrical contractor complete a safety check before the utility will restore power. Please note this task is not completed by Technical Safety BC, but my certified electrical contractors. You can find one here
     
  • If your power has been turned off, you should contact your power / gas supplier (e.g., BC Hydro, Fortis, etc.) to have it turned back on.
     
  • If water has entered the building, equipment must be looked at by a licensed electrical or gas contractor before power can be reconnected. Visit our Find a Contractor page.

 

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