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Information reprinted with permission from Manitoba Hydro

Blizzards, ice storms and heavy snow can cause power outages from a few hours to several days.

Even fog and heavy frost can suddenly affect power lines. 

How many of us are prepared for an extended winter power failure?

Manitoba Hydro’s experience in responding to a crisis has taught us the more prepared we are, the less severe the consequences.  The same can be said for you and your family – the better you plan ahead, the better you’ll cope when trouble hits.

The most crucial part of any emergency plan is first acknowledging that things can go sideways with little notice no matter where you live in Manitoba.

The next step is talking about it with your family and preparing an emergency plan for your home.  Draw a floor plan of your home, showing the locations of exits (windows and doors), where to shut off power and water, and where to find the fire extinguisher and how to use it.  Also, plan how to meet and contact one another if you’re not all at home.

You should also put together an emergency kit. Everyone should know where it’s kept and what it contains.


A kit doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but rather items you likely already have that can be easily found during an emergency.  It should include:

  • Candles and matches (candles should not be placed near flammable materials or left unattended).
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • A wind-up or battery-powered clock.
  • A portable battery-operated radio to keep you informed on the status of a power outage.
  • A supply of non-perishable food that doesn’t need cooking like crackers, cereal, trail, mix. Dried fruit, granola bars, peanut butter and canned food like fruit and tuna – don’t forget a manual can opener or multipurpose tool.
  • Potable water – at least four litres of bottled water per person, per day.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Extra blankets or sleeping bags
  • Cellular phone and car charger as well as an extra power bank.  Remember, you need dry chargers and batteries, so have plastic zippered bags in your kit to keep them protected.
  • Extra pet food.
  • First Aid Kit.  You can buy a first aid kit at most drugstores or make your own containing basic items.

Know When To Go

Being prepared allows you to stay calm and make better decisions.  During a winter outage, your home will stay warm for several hours.  With an extended outage, you and your family may decide to go someplace safer and warmer.  Make sure you call or email a neighbour, friend or family member to tell them of your plans.

Before leaving, unplug electronic equipment like TVs and computers to protect them from a voltage surge when power is restored. Also make sure your stove is off before you go.  You can also turn off the main breaker.  This reduces the chances of appliances damage and safety problems if the power is restored while you’re away.

During a power outage

Power can be disrupted for a few moments, an hour or two, or in extreme cases such as a severe winter storm, for more than a day. It’s important to be prepared when the lights go out.

  • Stay clear: If you see a damaged or fallen power line, stay at least 10 meters away and call 911
  •  Tell us: Call us at 1-888-624-9376 (1-888-MBHYDRO) if you notice excessive ice buildup on power lines.
  • Have a plan: Put together an emergency kit that will keep you and your family self-sufficient in your home for a least three days.
  • Turn off electrical appliances:  Pay special attention to those you any have been using when the power went out (i.e. stove/oven).

 If you go: If you leave your house during an outage, turn off the main breaker.  This reduces the chance of appliance damage and safety problems if power is restored while you’re away.