Northern British Columbians are more likely to be prepared for a storm-related power outage than their counterparts in the rest of the province – but there is still plenty of room for improvement, a survey commissioned for BC Hydro is showing.

Sixty-two per cent have taken steps to prepare for such events, compared to 58 per cent on Vancouver Island, 53 per cent in the Southern Interior and just 43 per cent in the Lower Mainland, according to the survey.

While that puts Northern B.C. at the top of the class, it also shows that about a third of the region’s population has some work to do.

Steps include preparing a plan and putting together an emergency kit so you’re ready when the lights go out and the furnace shuts down. Stocking up on enough food, water, clothing and medical supplies to last three days is the standard and not just for outages.

“We rarely have an outage that goes that long – 99 per cent of our outages are typically restored within 24 hours or less,” Hydro spokesperson Bob Gammer said. “Nevertheless, 72 hours is a good rule of thumb for natural disasters or other kinds of emergencies where people can be stranded, isolated and just need to make do with what they have until help can arrive.”

High wind and trees falling on power lines are the two leading causes of power outages and Gammer noted that B.C. is home to three times more trees than any other jurisdiction on the continent.

Especially in rural areas, many households have diesel generators to provide backup power. Community centres with backup power have also been used as warming centres when a mid-winter disaster has struck.

For those living in the city, a power outage could even be an excuse for a night out.

“If we have one section of town out, people can choose to go somewhere else,” Gammer said. “Maybe you’ve got friends across town and the power is still on there, or you could go out for dinner…there’s no point staying in the dark and feeling miserable about that. Go to where the power is on.”

Tips on being ready for an outage can be found at bchydro.com/getprepared.

By: Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Source: Prince George Citizen