Protect Yourself in a Power Outage

The recent severe weather events in the National Capital Region was a reminder of the need and importance of Property Insurance. Climate change has certainly made its mark on severe and inclement weather in our world. In the insurance world, this was Ottawa’s 3rd “catastrophic” event for 2018. The previous two were the Windstorm in May and the Flooding in March.

I spent the better part of my week assisting clients with claims – from simple freezer food losses to more severe property damages caused either by the Tornadoes or by its preceding winds. While the ferocity of the winds caused widespread damage to backyards, homes, power lines and commercial businesses, it was somewhat of a miracle that there were no fatalities in the wake of the Tornadoes. The hardest hit communities were in the South (Arlington Woods) and West (Dunrobin) of Ottawa. However, the Tornado that touched down in the South took out the power lines and power station in Nepean, leaving many customers in South and West Nepean without power for as long as 55+ hours!

The recent changes is a reminder to Always Be Prepared. Here are 10 Tips to protect yourself in the event of a Power outage:

1) Bottled Water: A human can go without food for a number of days but cannot survive more than 24 hours without water. In the event of a loss of either water supply or in the event of a contamination of water sources, having bottled water handy would be a life saver! A recent trip I took to a developing country reminded me of the importance of water and how we often take that for granted as Canadians. Everything from brushing your teeth to taking a bath, to food preparation and of course drinking it, requires water that is safe for consumption.

2) Batteries: So many of our basic needs today are controlled either electronically or through power sources. Simple appliances like alarm clocks and flashlights rely on batteries to operate. Keeping a small back-up supply of batteries in your home will be necessary to weather a power outage. I have a supply of D, AA, and AAA-sized batteries at home; along with extra battery packs for phones and laptops in the event of a power outage. If you live in a home or live in a rural area, I would recommend investing in a generator that can provide power to operate essential appliances in a power outage.

3) Candles: Keep some candles at home as well as in your car as it can be a source of both Light and Heat. When lighting a candle, remember to keep a window open to ensure proper ventilation. Remember to keep a box of matches or a lighter handy along with it. I keep my candles and matches in a Ziplock bag to prevent condensation on the wick or matches; and I always have a set handy both at home and in the trunk of my car.

4) Flashlight: While candles are a source of light and heat, I always keep at least 1-2 flashlights handy in the home and car. Flashlights are more user friendly when you are looking for items or exits in the dark. I often keep a pocket sized flashlight in my bedside table or close to me. It’s a lifesaver if you need to evacuate your home in the event of a fire. Remember to change your batteries regularly to ensure your Flashlight is in good working condition. Solar-lights are now also popular items that people keep in their emergency kits as these do not require batteries.

5) Freezer Foods: The majority of claims I handled in the past week were related to freezer food losses. It’s important to keep an inventory of foods you are discarding if they spoil. Ideally pictures would be handy to help expedite your claims. Some companies, like the one I represent, reimburse you for freezer food losses at zero deductible.

6) First Aid Kit: I always keep a First Aid Kit handy at home and in the trunk of my car. Basic supplies should include band-aids, bandages, antiseptic cleaner, and even some off-the-counter medications to last you 3-4 days if you were stranded. I also keep a pair of long socks and a few condoms in the First Aid Kit. I learnt this from my military survival training that these two items can help store water and ensure your survival.

7) Canned Foods and Snack Bars: Power outages often result in Freezer and Refrigerated foods going bad first. It is always good practice to keep some canned foods (e.g. soups, beans, tuna) or snack bars handy so that one can maintain your energy and nutrition through a power outage. If you are able to purchase foods at a supermarket, remember to keep your receipts and an itemized list of foods so your insurance company can reimburse you too.

8) Power Bank: Many of us are so dependent on technology these days. Having a Power Bank would extend the life of your mobile phone in the event of a power outage. Turn off any apps that are not essential to you during the emergency in order to preserve your battery life.

9) Blanket or Warm Clothing: This is essential in the event of a storm or power outage during our long Canadian winters. I keep a duffle bag in the trunk of my car that includes a thermal blanket, sweater/hoodie, gloves, first aid kit, candles, flashlight, snack bars, and a water bottle. It would be ideal to have an “emergency kit bag” in both your home and car so you can always be prepared.

10) Disconnect Appliances: It is good practice to disconnect your appliances, electronics and turn off power switches to avoid damage from electrical surges. I also recommend investing in a surge protector for your electronics and appliances. These devices mitigate the risk of a surge and thereby prevent a residential fire.

Remember that it’s not enough to be covered, You’ve got to feel Protected! Contact me today if you would like to learn how to better protect yourself and your possessions in the event of a catastrophe.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

“All opinions and views expressed in this blog are of my own and do not represent the views of Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada.”