Utilities

Disasters can cut off our power and water supply and we may have to manage without them.

We also need to know what to do in an emergency when our utilities fail.    

Electrical

After any disaster or emergency, you’ll want to keep your power on. However, in some cases, you may have to turn it off.

Make sure everyone in your household knows where your electrical panel is and how to turn it off.

It is a good idea to accurately label your electrical panel breakers so you can quickly identify them.

Consider turning off individual breakers. When power returns, you can control which appliances and lights turn on. This reduces the load on the system when the power does come back on.

Sometimes panels can spark or flash. When turning power off or on, stand to one side with your face away from the panel.

Water Shut Off

You may need to turn off your inside water shut-off valve:

  • If there is an inside water leak or burst pipe.
  • If you are evacuating for the long-term.
  • If emergency officials advised you to.

The water shut-off valve controls the water inside your home or building. Make sure that everyone in your household knows where it is and how to turn it off.

Natural Gas 

Natural gas heats our homes, our water and sometimes our stoves and other appliances. Like most fuels, natural gas is safe when properly used. However, accidents and emergencies can happen and it’s important for everyone to know about natural gas safety.

If you smell gas or hear the flow of escaping gas, immediately follow these steps:

  • Get out fast!
  • Don’t use your cell phone or landline, don’t smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches, or create any other source of ignition.
  • Leave the building.
  • Leave the door open and any windows that may already be open.
  • Leave on foot — don’t start your car.
  • At a safe distance call the FortisBC 24-hour Emergency Line 1-800-663-9911 or 9-1-1.

Natural gas and piped propane smell like rotten eggs or sulphur thanks to the added chemical mercaptan. Natural gas is actually odourless. The odour was added so you can detect and identify it. If leaked outdoors, natural gas will rise and dissipate into the atmosphere; however, if leaked in a confined space, like inside your home, it mixes with air and can cause a fire or explosion if ignited. Unburned natural gas (gas that leaks indoors and / or is not burned efficiently) also emits deadly carbon monoxide.

If you don’t smell a leak after an emergency or disaster, consider leaving the gas on. It could provide a source of energy for heat, hot water and cooking. Check the vents, chimney and connections at each gas appliance to be sure nothing has dislodged or blocked them. If you have turned off your gas, always call a registered gas contractor to turn it back on.