Ensure you have a plan in case of an extended power outage, and that your emergency kit is up to date. Here are some tips on what you could consider including.
The location is important to know, as it contains the main shut off valve, which you may need to access in case of an emergency. If you need any help locating your meter, please contact us. Meters are often located where the service enters the house, which could be a basement, under the sink, in a closet, behind a washing machine, in a crawl space, etc. In some cases, the meter is difficult to access. If this is the case and you experience a water emergency, please contact us for assistance.
Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold. In many cases, these include: outdoor faucets, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas that could include basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose faucets. Open the outside hose faucets to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- If you've opened air vents to crawl spaces in the warm weather, ensure you've closed / sealed these vents prior to the cold weather.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" orinstalling UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Many products are available at your local building supplies retailer. Pipes should be carefully wrapped, with ends butted tightly and joints wrapped with tape. Follow manufacturer's recommendations for installing and using these products. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes - even ¼" of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
- Check with neighbours to ensure a water main break hasn’t occurred. If you see water seeping, bubbling or flowing up from a crack in a yard, gutter, sidewalk or street, please contact us with the location.
- Entegrus does not recommend thawing frozen pipes yourself. Contact a certified plumber to discuss your best plan of action regarding frozen pipes.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Severe Winter Weather
In the event of severe weather, customers should immediately report downed wires to their electric company or local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.
- Check flashlights and battery-powered portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries.
- A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm, ensure back up chargers are fully charged.
- Review and replenish your emergency kit.
- Have sufficient heating fuel, as regular sources may be cut off. Have emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can keep at least one room livable. Be sure the room is well ventilated.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
- To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture (see above re: preventing frozen pipes)
- Know how to shut off water valves.
- If your water supply could be affected (a well-water pump system), fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. The bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. (Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet).
- Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored).
- During an outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed). Covering the freezer with blankets, quilts will help keep the food frozen.
- If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.
- Review the process for manually operating an electric garage door.
- Dress for the season, wearing several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Mittens are better than gloves.
- Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages, if the victim is conscious. Get medical help, as soon as possible.
- Snowdrifts can be used as a makeshift freezer for food. (Be aware of attracting animals).
- Snow can be melted for an additional water source.
- In order to protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, you should unplug all sensitive electronic equipment, including TVs, stereo, VCR, microwave oven, computer, cordless telephone, answering machine and garage door opener.
- When flood water rises above electrical outlets or power cords or is near the electrical service panel, it could be energized. Contact your local electric utility to disconnect the power immediately.
- Do not plug in or use electrical appliances that have been wet until they have been checked by a licensed electrical contractor or serviced by the manufacturer.
- Look out for flood damage
- Stay at least 10 metres or 33 feet (about the length of a school bus) back from any downed wires.
- Storms can also damage the equipment that connects your home to the electricity grid. Licensed Electrical Contractors are the only ones authorized to repair this type of equipment. ESA works closely with Licensed Electrical Contractors to safely reconnect homes to the grid, avoiding the risk of shock or fire.
- If your home’s electrical connection is damaged, contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do the repairs. You can find one near you through the ESA's Contractor Lookup Tool.
- Do not use electrical appliances that have been affected by water. Hire a qualified appliance repair person to check for and repair any damage.