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British Columbians not prepared for storm-related power outages

A new BC Hydro report finds despite experiencing the most damaging winter storm in BC Hydro’s history last year, many British Columbians remain unprepared for storm-related power outages.

The report entitled, ‘Weathering the storm: Many British Columbians not prepared for increasingly severe winter storms’ looks at the operational challenges faced by BC Hydro due to an increase in the frequency and severity of weather events in the province. The increase in these types of weather events reminds British Columbians the importance of being prepared for storm-related power outages.

In 2018, British Columbians experienced a record number of power outages as a result of adverse weather causing trees and vegetation to come into contact with BC Hydro’s system. This type of damage caused 30 per cent of outages in the province. This is largely the result of the December 2018 storm – the largest in BC Hydro history – that caused unprecedented damage and left over 750,000 customers without power. Around seven per cent of affected customers were without power for more than 72 hours.

Despite this, a survey commissioned by BC Hydro found that while British Columbians have noticed the increase in storm damage in recent years, more than 60 per cent have not taken steps to be more prepared for storm-related power outages, and more than half do not have an emergency kit. This includes the majority of British Columbians that were affected by the December 2018 windstorm.

BC Hydro encourages customers to be prepared for storm-related power outages. This includes having a well-stocked emergency kit with supplies for each member of the household for at least 72 hours.

An emergency kit should include basic supplies, such as:

·         A flashlight and extra batteries;

·         First aid kit;

·         Required medications;

·         Non-perishable food and bottled water.

BC Hydro is also reminding British Columbians that if they come across a down or damaged power line, it should be considered live and dangerous and be reported to 9-1-1.

BC Hydro is continuing to make improvements to its operations during storm events. This includes introducing new technologies to allow for better communication between crews in the field and its operations centre to provide more timely information to customers.