What to Do If You Have an Electrical Emergency This Winter

27 February, 2019
What to Do If an Electrical Emergency arises This Winter


Electricity consumption shoots up during winter as families spend more time indoors. Many Canadian home-heating systems are dependent on electric power. And with the unpredictability of the winter season, power can go out any time, with the interruptions lasting for anything between a few hours and several days.

Winter events such as high winds, freezing rain, and blizzards can damage power lines and equipment and make it difficult to access them for repair. Electrical problems can also occur in your own home, especially if your heating system has not been serviced in a long time. It is critical that you get any power failure problems inspected and corrected as soon as possible to ensure the safety and comfort of your family.

An emergency electrician in Toronto can brave the harsh weather to address issues related to power and heating failure. An extended power outage during winter not only puts the lives of your family at risk, but also results in cold, damp homes, adverse living conditions, and damage to plumbing, walls, and floors.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with winter electrical emergencies:

Determine the Extent of the Power Failure

Check whether there are any visible lights from your neighbours to determine if the power failure is limited to your home or a wider area. If your neighbours appear to have power, check your circuit breaker or fuse box, as well as the service wires connecting to your house. If the wires are damaged or on the ground, stay a safe distance away and alert your electric supply authority. Notify the authority if your neighbours are also affected, once you determine that the fault is not in your home.

Turn Off All Electronic Equipment

Shut down all electronic equipment, including any electronic tools and appliances, and make sure to turn down your thermostat to a minimum. This is important for the following reasons:

  • Any tools and appliances that are left on will automatically start up once the service is restored, causing injury or a fire.
  • In the event that there is a power surge, it may cause injury, start a fire, or damage sensitive electronic equipment. This is why it is recommended to protect computers, microwaves, and other electronic equipment and appliances with a power surge proof power bar.
  • It is easier to restore power when the electric system is not carrying much weight.

Prepare to Evacuate

If the problem is so bad that you need to evacuate, make sure to protect your home first by:

  • Turning off the main switch of the power supply box.
  • Turning off the water main supply where it enters your home. Cover the pump, meter, valve, and inlet pipe with an insulation material such as blankets.
  • Add a small amount of antifreeze to any water left in the toilet bowl, sink, and bathtub traps.
  • Unhook the washing machine hoses and drain.
  • Remove any valuables from the basement floor in case of flooding.

If the power failure has only affected your home, make sure to contact an emergency electrician in Toronto. Most professional electricians work 24/7, 365 days a year. So they should be able to respond immediately if the weather conditions allow it.

In the meantime, here are a few do’s and don’ts to ensure your safety and comfort before the electricity problem can be fixed:



  • Leave one light switch on so you know when power is restored.
  • Dress warmly. Put on additional layers of warm clothing and share a bed when going to sleep to maximize on body heat.
  • Use candleholders to ensure the stability of your candles. Place them away from anything that could catch fire, and don’t leave any lit candles unattended.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed, and seal off any spaces that may let in drafts. Keep in mind that even in extremely cold conditions, the indoor temperature should not drop too much for at least several hours.
  • Avoid staying in rooms with large windows or uninsulated walls. Instead, choose an interior room like the closet or basement, and isolate it from the rest of the house by closing all doors and hanging bedding, towels, or heavy drapes over entryways.
  • Prepare your backup heating unit before the house gets too cold, and limit its use to one room and area. If your heating unit’s hot air can only escape through the same chimney flue as the furnace, make sure to turn off the furnace before opening or removing the furnace flue.
  • Listen to a battery-operated or car radio for local advice and instructions.


  • Keep your fridge or freezer door open for too long unless you really need to. A full freezer typically keeps food cool for 24–36 hours as long as the door stays closed.
  • Use home generators, camping heating equipment, or gas or charcoal barbecues inside your house. They produce carbon monoxide gas, which is odourless, colourless, and fatal.

A home generator is handy for backup electricity following an outage. If a home generator is connected to the main electrical system, make sure that the connection has been professionally done and approved by your electric supply authority. Otherwise, connect your lights and appliances directly to the generator. The generator should only operate outdoors in well-ventilated conditions, and away from your doors and windows to keep exhaust gases out.

Preparing for Electrical Emergencies in Winter

Winter weather can be terrible, so it’s important that you prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. Sometimes the power may be out for hours or days. Prepare an emergency safety kit with flashlights, batteries, blankets, sleeping bags, some water, a first-aid kit, and non-perishable food. Also, get some space heaters, and prepare an emergency contact list that includes helpful neighbours and emergency electricians in Toronto.

But perhaps the most important safety measure is to get your home’s electrical system inspected, including the heating system, to ensure that it can withstand the harsh conditions. A professional electrician with experience can find potential problems that might arise during winter and fix them. Contact us today to get a professional from Hi-Lite Electric to give your home’s system a look.

Leave A Comment

avathar icon

© 2023 Licensed Electrical Installation & Service – Hi-Liteelectricinc.ca

All Rights Reserved.

Powered by TechWyse