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Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies happen when we don't expect them. The City of Guelph has been involved in emergency planning for decades and is prepared to meet the challenges posed by disasters. Potential emergencies identified by the City of Guelph include:

  • Hazardous material release from a fixed or mobile site
  • Severe weather including tornadoes and ice storms
  • Human health emergencies

For information about preparing for an emergency, please visit the
City of Guelph - Emergency Management and Preparedness.

Tips for Preparing for a Power Outage

Power outages occur for many reasons and can last from a few seconds to hours or longer. Although Guelph Hydro strives to provide highly reliable and consistent electric power, it is impossible for any utility to maintain perfectly constant voltage 100 percent of the time. This is reflected in our Conditions of Service, Section 2.3, Conveyance of Electricity.

The most common causes of power outages in our community include:

  • Extreme Weather such as high winds, lightning, freezing rain and snow, rain or flooding. During a storm hydro poles are vulnerable to lightning strikes while strong winds can snap off tree branches and down power lines. Freezing rain or snow can build up on equipment causing damage.
  • Equipment Failure. Guelph Hydro equipment is regularly maintained and updated, but problems can occasionally occur. Cables, connectors, transformers, switches and many other types of equipment can fail and trigger an outage.
  • Vehicle Accidents. Vehicles that accidentally hit and damage our power equipment can disrupt the power supply.
  • Animals. Birds, squirrels, and other local wildlife are responsible for numerous outages in Guelph. When they come into contact with equipment or chew into a power line, they can cause a service interruption.
  • Cable Dig-ins. Construction crews can inadvertently hit a buried line or underground cable while excavating, resulting in an outage. If you are planning to dig, drill, blast, auger or drive stakes (including fence post spikes) into the ground, it is essential that you call Ontario One Call at 1.800.400.2255 before you dig to arrange a free underground cable locate.
  • Trees. Neighbourhoods with large trees are more likely to be hit with power outages. When a tree comes into contact with a power line, either due to bad weather or growth, circuit breakers or other protective equipment are designed to cut off the power until crews remove the tree and reset the equipment.
  • Planned Interruptions. Occasionally, service interruptions are necessary in order to allow our crews to safely conduct maintenance or repair work. We try to schedule these repairs at the least inconvenient times for you and keep them to a minimum. When it is determined that Guelph Hydro needs to interrupt the hydro service to our customers, we endeavour to provide adequate notification by letter, door hanger or verbal communication.

Medical Equipment - Emergency Call

If your life, or that of a loved one, depends on electrically-powered medical equipment, such as a ventilator or kidney dialysis machine, contact us so that you can be placed on our priority registry in the event of a power outage.  Please review our Medical Equipment - Emergency Call page for more information.

Prepare Your Home Before a Storm 

Plan ahead for a power outage in the same way that you'd prepare for any emergency.

  • Have at least one non-cordless phone in your home.
  • If your smoke detectors are electrically operated, consider buying some units with batteries as back up.
  • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and leave the refrigerator closed. Food will stay fresher longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment - especially sensitive electronics.
  • Check to ensure that your Emergency Kit is stocked and all contact information is current.
  • Fill your vehicle's gas tank full.
  • Bring lawn furniture and other loose, lightweight objects inside.
  • If you have a swimming pool, turn off all pumps and filters and wrap them in waterproof materials. Water from the storm may otherwise damage them.
  • Where possible, insulate or cover water lines, hose bibs, etc. when confronted with severe cold weather .

Preparing for a Lightning Storm

Lightning can be a very frightening thing. Each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others. Environment Canada provides the tips below to help you and your family stay safe during a lightning storm:

Outdoor Precautions:

  • Avoid putting yourself above the surrounding landscape. Seek shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys, ditches and depressions but be aware of flooding.
  • Stay away from water. Don't go boating or swimming if a storm threatens, and get to land as quickly as possible if you are already on the water. Lightning can strike the water and travel a substantial distance from its point of contact.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity , such as tractors, golf carts, golf clubs, metal fences, motorcycles, lawnmowers and bicycles.
  • Avoid being the highest point in an open area. Swinging a golf club, or holding an umbrella or fishing rod can make you the tallest object and a target for lightning.
  • You are safe inside a car during lightning , but be aware of downed power lines which may be touching your car. You are safe inside the car, but you may receive a shock if you step outside.
  • In a forest , seek shelter in a low-lying area under a thick growth of small trees or bushes.
  • Keep alert for flash floods , sometimes caused by heavy rainfall, if seeking shelter in a ditch or low-lying area.

Indoor Precautions

  • Before the storm hits, disconnect electrical appliances including radios and television sets. Do not touch them during the storm.
  • Don't go outside unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Don't handle electrical equipment or telephones. The electrical current from the lightning strike will travel through wires and cords and if you are directly connected with them, you could be struck. Use battery operated appliances only. Cordless telephones are safe however you could receive a very loud noise on the phone which may seem like a shock. This would be consistent with the house or somewhere nearby being struck by lightning.
  • Do not take baths or showers during a storm since water conducts electricity.

For more information on safety during an electrical storm that please visit ec.gc.ca.

Stay Safe During an Outage

If the power goes out in your home or business, check to ensure that the power isn't out because of a tripped breaker or blown fuse in your electrical panel. DO NOT USE CANDLES AS A LIGHT SOURCE when you are checking your breakers or fuses. Always use a flashlight if light is needed.

If everything is in order, check with your neighbours to see if their power is out. If the outage is neighbourhood-wide, please call us at 519.822.3010 during regular business hours, or at 519.822.3014 outside of regular business hours.

To learn more about changing fuses and resetting circuit breakers, please visit the Circuits, Wiring and GFCIs section of our website.

  • Keep people and pets away from downed power lines - always assume that any downed power line is energized.
  • Call 911 to report downed power lines. For more information about safety around downed power lines.
  • Do not go near electrical equipment around areas of standing water, like a flooded basement.
  • Stay alert for natural gas odours. If you smell natural gas, or if you hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and leave the area immediately.
  • Do not operate electrical switches.
  • Don't leave candles unattended and keep them away from furniture, draperies and other flammable materials.
  • Turn off electric ranges or space heaters during a power outage. This will prevent the possibility of a fire if you are away from your home when power is restored.
  • If you are using a portable generator during an outage, keep it outside away from combustibles and position it carefully so that fumes do not enter the house. Used indoors, generators can pose a serious health and safety hazard. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully when using your generator.
  • If the outage lasts less than four hours, allow your electrical system a chance to stabilize before you turn everything back on. Turn on the most essential appliances one by one and wait 30 minutes before reconnecting others.
  • Do not open the freezer door unless absolutely necessary. A partly filled freezer will keep most food frozen for 12 - 24 hours. In a full freezer, food will remain frozen for 24 - 48 hours.
  • If you heat your home/business with electricity, turn your thermostats off or down to prevent damage or injury should a sudden power surge occur when power is restored.
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