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Loss of Utilities

While all utilities do their very best to maintain their services, from time to time there are events that interrupt that service.

Things to do in a power outage

  • Check with your neighbours to see if they have electricity.
  • If it is a neighbourhood power outage, unplug all appliances to avoid damage from a power surge when the power is restored. Shut off all lights except one to signal the return of power. Shut off computer equipment.
  • If your service has been interrupted contact Manitoba Hydro.
  • Report all downed power lines to Manitoba Hydro and the Winnipeg Police Service. Remember - downed wires are potentially live so stay away from them.
  • Turn on your battery powered radio and tune it to a local radio station.
  • If your home is the only one in the neighbourhood without power, the problem could be in your residence. Know the location and type of service in your home (fuse box or circuit breaker panel) and know how it works. If you do not know how to change a fuse or re-set the breaker, contact Manitoba Hydro or a professional electrician.
  • Natural gas furnaces do not have to be turned off. Usually, they operate when power is restored.
  • Most natural gas furnaces need electricity to operate, while most natural gas fireplace burners will operate without electricity. Consult the manufacturer of your equipment for information about your furnace and fireplace.
  • Be aware that food in freezers may thaw during extended power outages. Most freezers keep food for 12 to 24 hours, before items thaw; when in doubt throw it out!

Things to do when natural gas service is interrupted

The safety controls on natural gas equipment are designed to close and shut equipment off if gas flow is interrupted. For information on your equipment contact the manufacturer.

  • Contact Manitoba Hydro
  • Turn the thermostat down so it is not calling for heat.

Things to do to stay warm in your home

  • Keep windows and doors closed to conserve heat. Wear heavy clothing.
  • Use your emergency heating source to warm one room before the building gets too cold. If the power is still on, use electric heater to maintain heat.
  • Check water pipes to ensure they are not freezing up.

Things to do once the electrical service has been restored

  • Wait a few minutes for the power to stabilize before plugging in appliances again.
  • Be sure the water heater is full of water before turning it on.
  • Turn off portable heaters.

Things to do once the natural gas has been restored

  • You may have to re-light the pilot light(s). If you don't know how, contact Manitoba Hydro. Authorities may instruct you to wait for professional assistance.
  • Be sure the water heater is full of water before turning it on.
  • Turn up the furnace thermostat.
  • Turn off portable heaters.

Things to do if you must evacuate and leave your home

  • Turn off the main electric switch.
  • Turn off the water heater switch.
  • If you have a hot water or steam boiler system, turn off the power and/or natural gas supply and drain the boiler and system according to the manufacturer's instructions. For specific information contact the manufacturer.

Things to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Open all doors and windows.
  • Leave the building immediately.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Call Manitoba Hydro immediately for an emergency inspection.

Things to do to prepare your house for a freeze up

  • Drain water pipes to prevent water in pipes from freezing and splitting the pipes:
    1. Shut off tap at water meter;
    2. Open taps in house;
    3. Open tap in basement, drain water into pails and save for use.
  • Drain the hot water tank and furnace humidifier.
  • Flush the toilet to empty as much water as possible. Add recreation vehicle antifreeze to toilet tank and bowl to reduce chance of freezing.
  • Drain water from washing machine and dishwasher.
  • Drain hot tub.
  • Add recreation vehicle antifreeze to all sink, bathtub, shower and floor drains.
  • When notified, City works crews may shut off the water at the street. They may also require access to your house to drain the water meter.
  • Protect the valve, inlet pipe and water meter or pump with blankets or insulating material.
  • If you are able to keep the temperature above freezing in the area of the water meter or water tank there may be no need to drain this equipment; however, the City may have to shut the water off for other reasons.

Things to know if your building is equipped with a fire alarm system and/or a sprinkler system

If you live in an apartment or work in a commercial building, stay safe from fire in the event of a power outage.

The Manitoba Fire Code requires all fire protection installations be maintained in operating conditions at all times. This includes fire alarm and sprinkler systems. If an extended power outage disables a life safety system (such as sprinklers, fire alarms, etc), a building owner or their agent must implement a Fire Watch immediately. This applies to every multiple-family residence and commercial building.

In the event of an extended power outage that impacts the life safety systems, the building must initiate a fire watch:

  • While a Fire Watch is in place, designated individuals are required to actively look for evidence of fire.
  • Hourly, the individuals are required to walk the entire premises looking, listening and smelling for smoke, fire, sounding smoke alarms, etc.
  • Fire watch personnel are each required to log their activity every hour.

Each person assigned to conduct the fire watch should be provided with:

  1. Suitable means of communication (cell phone, portable radio, etc.) for notifying emergency services
  2. A portable air horn, whistle or other approved means of sounding an alarm
  3. Flashlight
  4. Clipboard and pen
  5. Copy of Fire Watch duties
  6. Copy of the Fire Watch Log Sheet
  7. Keys and/or access codes to provide entry to all rooms/spaces
  8. Floor plan(s) of the building under Fire Watch
  9. A list of persons requiring assistance in evacuation / special needs

Key Points:

  • Fire Watch personnel are to be familiar with the building and procedures for sounding an alarm and contacting 911 in the event of a fire.
  • Fire Watch personnel must have a telephone readily available and immediately contact 911 if smoke or fire are discovered.
  • If the building has a both a sprinkler system and fire alarm system the Fire Watch must remain in place until both systems are restored.
  • If the fire alarm system is monitored, ensure the monitoring station is contacted when the systems are back on line.

Contact your building owner to find out if a Fire Watch is in place in your building during extended power outages that impact the life safety systems.

Last update: October 13, 2019