Over half of British Columbians not prepared for winter storms: BC Hydro

Nov 22 2019, 9:19 am

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BC Hydro is urging its customers to be more prepared this winter season, after being hit by what they describe as “the worst windstorm in its history” last December.

The utility company says that last year’s storm dealt “unprecedented system damage.” Nearly 750,000 customers experienced power outages and in some areas, people were without power for more than 72 hours.

Even after last year’s storm, however, BC Hydro says that “many British Columbians remain unprepared for storm-related power outages.”

A recent survey from the company found that the majority (nearly 60%) of British Columbians who were impacted by last year’s weather felt that they could have been more prepared.

But despite the acknowledgement, there are many who still haven’t taken action.

Only half of British Columbians have an emergency preparedness kit, not to mention, only 12% of those who don’t have one say that they’re planning on buying one this year.

BC Hydro explains that nearly half of all power outages that are caused by weather events are more than three hours in length.

The company also says that one-third of customers have encountered a downed power line and 15% have had a power line fall on or near their property.

Almost one-fifth of customers, however, don’t know how to tell if a downed power line is live.

BC Hydro urges its customers to prepare an emergency kit in the event of a storm-related power outage, consisting of:

  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Any required medications
  • Non-perishable food
  • Enough bottled water to last each member of the household for 72 hours
  • Warm clothing and blankets

In the event of a downed power line, customers are told to treat each as an emergency “even if it is not smoking, sparking, or making a buzzing sound.”

Anyone who finds one should stay at least 10 metres back (the length of a city bus, says BC Hydro) and call 9-1-1 to alert the dispatcher that a power line has fallen.

According to the utility company, they spend approximately $50 million per year on its vegetation management program, which helps prevent “tree-related outages.”

They also perform regular maintenance and upgrades to its system, which includes “replacing approximately 10,000 power poles per year that become damaged by adverse weather, wildlife, or weakened by age.”