Nova Scotia

What you need to know: Safety during a power outage

As crews work to restore power to thousands still in the dark across the Maritimes, we've compiled some facts you should know.

From food safety to carbon monixde risks, power outages can pose a danger to people

The wind and rain forecast for Christmas could cause power problems. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

As crews work to restore power to thousands still in the dark across the Maritimes, we've complied a few facts you should know.

1. Carbon monoxide poisoning risk

It may seem like common sense, but carbon monoxide poisoning deaths continue to happen. 

Never use generators or barbecues indoors as this creates a carbon monoxide hazard. Also, ensure that batteries are working in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

2. Food safety after an outage

The Department of Agriculture has a number of suggestions about how to prevent food loss during a power outage but says “when in doubt, toss it out.”

The department says it’s all about temperature.

“Discard any perishable foods that may have been above [4 C] for more than two hours,” according to the department's food safety fact sheet, “and any food that feels warm or has an unusual odour or colour.”

The agriculture department says there are some foods that can last longer outside the fridge. It says things like butter or margarine, fruits and veggies, and condiments — among others — can last for several days without being kept cold.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency advises that a full freezer will keep food frozen for about 48 hours after it loses power, a half-full freezer for about 24 hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep cold for about four hours.

3. Candle safety

If you can, use a flashlight or lantern instead of a candle.

If you must use a candle, make sure the glass shade is higher than the flame to protect against burning loose clothing. Blow out the flame when you leave the room and keep candles away from children.  

4. Conserve electronic device battery life

You may find that your cellphone is your only remaining means of communication with the outside world, and if so you should conserve battery life.

You can make the most of a limited resource by turning down the screen brightness and turning off power-hungry functions such as Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS.

5. Stay away from downed power lines

Use extreme caution around downed power lines, especially when attempting to clear brush or downed trees.

Any hanging power line could be charged. Stay back at least 10 metres from wires or anything in contact with them.

6. Unplug appliances

Keep appliances unplugged or turned off to avoid problems overwhelming the grid when the power returns.