Power Outage Essentials: How to Prepare For a Power Outage

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With unpredictable, unseasonable, dangerous and outright freak weather conditions becoming more and more frequent, you’d be remiss not to make some accommodations in case of a power outage — both at home and at work.

You’ll want to follow several key steps when preparing for a power outage. These include strategizing and planning for every eventuality (including formulating a plan to safely evacuate a building), stocking up on pertinent provisions and delegating a ‘leader’ — in other words, someone in charge during a power outage.

Before we outline the necessary supplies, here are some situations in which you might lose power. They’re more common than you might think!

Some Situations Where Power May Be Lost

  • Powerlines may be severed accidentally during the felling of trees or during routine line maintenance.
  • Animals! Squirrels, especially, are guilty of causing more power outages than you’d expect. In Austin, Texas alone, squirrels are held accountable for 300 power outages a year.
  • Vehicle collisions are to blame for some power outages. This happens when a driver collides with a power box.
  • Equipment failure. On occasion, despite the best efforts of power companies through routine maintenance, equipment may fail, leading to loss of power.

While these instances may result in loss of power, it will most likely be for a short period of time. That said, when the power does go out, there’s no immediate way to know how long it will be down for —online storm updates can be slow to be updated, and at times, inaccurate — so it might be hard to ascertain if you need to put your power outage plan into action.

While the above situations are somewhat minor, there are situations where power may be lost for long periods of time (sometimes for weeks!).

Recent Instances of Extreme Power Loss

  • In May 2022, a derecho storm swept through the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada. A derecho is a fast, aggressive windstorm that moves in a straight line; it brings dangerous thunderstorms and can be long-lived. It’s estimated that 1.1 million people initially lost power, with roofs swept from houses, powerlines toppled, trees were strewn across roads and several fatalities. Communities of thousands were left without power for days, others for weeks. People were forced to travel to family members in ‘safe’ areas or to visit community centres for water, shelter, and showers.
  • In 2021, a severe thunderstorm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left over 100,000 people without power for over 12 hours.

A close up of a green exit sign affixed to a hallway ceiling


With the wildly unpredictable nature of weather and the assortment of other reasons for power loss, it makes sense to think ahead and to prepare in advance for a power outage so that you’re not caught out.

Have a Plan in Case of a Power Outage

If your power outage situation is combined with tumultuous weather conditions, you may need to evacuate. With that, it’s imperative your family (both work and home) have a strategy for the different stages of an evacuation. Planning a route in advance is important to ensure a dangerous, chaotic situation doesn’t ensue; planning will keep everyone calm and focused.

In your office plan, identify a refuge point, an area for people with mobility issues, vision impairment, seniors, and pregnant people to convene in case of evacuation. Newer buildings will already have a refuge point included in the floorplan. In older buildings you may need to designate one.

In instances such as this, the use of stair evacuation chairs will be an absolute necessity, as elevators may have lost power in office and condo buildings. An Evacuscape evacuation chair will allow the transportation of these persons down staircases comfortably, efficiently and safely. Our chairs are strategically designed to maneuver smoothly both down the stairs and then outside onto flat land so that those in need of assistance can calmly get to the designated emergency evacuation point.

The ownership of our high quality evacuation chairs allows for a safe and equal evacuation plan — for everyone.

Lastly, if an evacuation has been called, follow local guidance listen to the radio, and read online reports for updates.

There are some steps you should take during a power outage to prepare for the long haul and to guarantee everyone is safe and as comfortable as can be.

Measures to Take During a Power Outage

  • Lock windows and doors. This is important in newer builds where automated security systems may not be working.
  • For safety issues, use flashlights over candles if possible.
  • Unplug major appliances and turn down your thermostat — doing this will minimize the risk of a power surge when it’s restored. A power surge could damage your appliances.
  • In the winter, leave taps slightly open to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Try to minimize your cell phone use to save your battery.
  • If the power is expected to be down for some time, move perishables to the freezer or put them in a cooler with ice if you’re able to do so.

In addition to planning for a power outage, you should also invest in some tangible power outage provisions.

Items You Should Consider Keeping on Hand

  • Bottles of water (at least 2 litres per person, per day).
  • A first aid kit.
  • Non-perishable food like canned fruits and vegetables (make sure that you have a working can opener at home or office — a can opener that barely works is annoying at the best of times!). Be sure to check the expiry date on these items annually.
  • A battery-powered flashlight or radio (make sure you have extra batteries).
  • A solar charger for phones.
  • Always make sure that you have medications well stocked.
  • Extra rolls of toilet paper.
  • Heavy blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Spare clothing and footwear.
  • Spare keys to your home, office, and vehicle.

It’s recommended by the Canadian Red Cross that you have provisions in place to last three days.

Knowing what to do in a power outage can be distressing. Being in the dark (quite literally) never feels good. By planning ahead and stocking up on some power outage essentials, you’ll be as comfortable as possible until the lights come back on.

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