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Study shows Metro Vancouver overconfident, underprepared for storm-related power loss

Fewer than half of area residents have an outage plan or emergency kit at home
BC Hydro workers look on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement at BC Hydro Trades Training Centre in Surrey, B.C., Thursday, August, 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

BC Hydro says storm-related outages are more frequent in British Columbia due to climate change but when it comes to preparing for a blackout, a new report shows Lower Mainland residents are in the dark.

The report from the Crown utility says more than half of Lower Mainland residents think their region is the most prepared for storm-related power outages, but fewer than half have an outage plan or emergency kit at home.

Hydro spokesman Kyle Donaldson says people in areas such as northern B.C., where outages are more frequent, are less confident in their region’s preparedness, but 62 per cent have an emergency kit ready to go when the lights go out.

Vancouver Islanders also have frequent storm-related outages and the report shows 58 per cent of respondents say they are prepared to lose electricity, although just 22 per cent think their region is the most prepared overall for a blackout.

Seventy per cent of B.C. residents also say it’s important or very important to have cellphone access during an outage, but the report shows nearly 75 per cent of Lower Mainland residents would rely on their phones and 13 per cent would rather go without their partner than their cell during an outage — the highest of any region.

Regional differences aside, Hydro says the key to coping with a storm-related blackout is to have an emergency kit with supplies to support every member of the household for 72 hours, and to know what to do before, during and after an outage.

Tips for managing without electrical power include covering stand-alone freezers with blankets or sleeping bags to add further insulation, Hydro says in its list of outage do’s and don’ts.

“Give our electrical system a chance to stabilize after an outage,” it says of the recovery phase.

“Turn on the most essential appliances first, and wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting the others.”

—The Canadian Press

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