A new BC Hydro report is shedding light on British Columbians preparedness for power outages in winter storms, believing the majority of residents are not prepared for severe weather events.
Entitled, “Weathering the storm: Many British Columbians not prepared for increasingly severe winter storms“, the report focuses on the challenges that BC Hydro is facing and the importance of the public being prepared.
“There is an increase in both the frequency and severity of our weather events in recent years and that’s causing more damage to our system and more outages for our customers,” Dianne Tammen told MyEastKootenayNow.com, BC Hydro Community Relations Manager for the East Kootenay. “Even though the majority of British Columbians agree that there are more frequent storms, many of them are still not prepared for weather-related outages.”
A recent survey commissioned by BC Hydro found that 60% of British Columbians were not taking steps to be prepared for storm-related power outages even though they had noticed an increase in storm damage over recent years. In addition, more than 50% of respondents said they did not have an emergency kit.
Basic supplies for an emergency kit include a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, required medications, and non-perishable food items and bottled water.
“Last year set a record for the highest number of outages and those outages were caused by trees and adverse weather,” added Tammen. “What we want to do is encourage our customers to have an emergency preparedness kit for storm-related outages, something that would support them being out for as long as 72 hours.”
2018 saw the province experience some of its worst winter storms with a record number of power outages due to trees falling or coming into contact with BC Hydro’s power lines. 750,000 customers were without power in December 2018 after the largest storm in BC Hydro’s history as about 7% of customers were without power for over 72 hours and causing unprecedented damage. BC Hydro said that 30% of all power outages in the province are caused by trees or other plant vegetation coming into contact with their lines.
Tammen said BC Hydro is continuing to improve their operations when tasked with storm-related events, but want the public to be as prepared as possible.
“We have technology that helps us predict where these storms will be and how severe they will be and with that technology we are able to get the resources to the right place, also we’re able to bring equipment and therefor respond to those outages in a more timely manner.”
Tammen added that some of the new technologies BC Hydro has at their disposal will improve communication between their operations centres and crews in the field, so they can provide faster and more efficient updates to the public.