Power outages and powerline safety
The safety and reliability of electricity infrastructure is important to us. Periodically, scheduled service interruptions are required to perform system maintenance. If an outage is planned for your area, we’ll make our best effort to notify you.
Unplanned interruptions are usually a direct result of storm damage, motor vehicle accidents, animals, or other unexpected events. High winds can bring down power lines. If you see a downed power line or tree branch that has fallen on a power line, always assume it still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking.
Report a power emergency
Utilities Kingston is available 24 hours a day to respond to power outages in the Kingston Hydro electricity distribution area.
Are you experiencing an outage? Check our outage map, and if it's not listed, report it to us 24/7 at 613-546-1181. If you require electricity service in the west or east areas of the City, contact Hydro One at 1-800-434-1235.
Identifying the problem
Before reporting an outage, consider the following:
Is only a part of your house without power?
If only a part of your home is without power, you might have an internal electrical issue. Unplug any appliances that might be overloaded, reset the Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) switch and check your electrical panel for any tripped breakers.
If you have done all of the above and your power is still out, report your outage by calling 613-546-1181. Utilities Kingston is available 24 hours a day to respond to power outages in the Kingston Hydro electricity distribution area.
Is the outage limited to your home?
If your neighbours have power, your main circuit breaker may have tripped. You’ll know it tripped when the switch is halfway between the “off” and “on” position.
This is how you safely reset it:
- Unplug any appliance that you suspect may have caused the overload.
- Using a flashlight, open your electrical panel.
- Flip it firmly to “off”, then back “on” again.
If the breaker trips again, don't reset it. This may indicate a more serious problem. In this case, you will need to locate a licensed electrical contractor.
If your home still uses fuses instead of breakers, replace the blown fuse.
Is the whole neighbourhood affected?
If everyone on your street is without power, report the outage by calling 613-546-1181. Utilities Kingston is available 24 hours a day to respond to power outages in the Kingston Hydro electricity distribution area.
Downed power lines
- If you see a downed power line or tree branch that has fallen on a power line, always assume it still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking.
- Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (that’s about the length of a school bus) and don’t touch anything metal (such as guard rails) in the area.
- Report it immediately by calling 9-1-1 or our emergency line at 613-546-1181. This line is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- If a power line falls on your car, the car and the ground around it may be electrified and you could be killed if you get out of the vehicle. Stay inside until the utility workers tell you it’s safe to get out. Tell everyone to stay back 10 metres or 33 feet.
Get more powerline safety facts from the Electrical Safety Authority.
Stop, Look, Live: powerline safety tips for households and residents
Always look up and look out for powerlines
- Stay back three metres from powerlines. You don’t have to touch a powerline to get a deadly shock. Electricity can jump or “arc” to you if you get too close. Getting too close to a powerline can kill you or cause serious injury. Contact with a residential voltage of 120 volts can be just as lethal as higher voltages.
- Powerlines can be deadly! Assume any utility line has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking, or if you think it might be a telecommunications line.
- If you see people getting close to utility lines, tell them to stay well back.
- Do not interfere with poles, lines and other utility equipment. Tampering with or climbing utility equipment can create an immediate safety risk for yourself, the public and/or utility workers.
- Always look up and look out for powerlines. Stay off utility poles and equipment, roof tops, vehicles, trees and other areas that put you in close proximity to utility lines and equipment.
- Stay away from dangerous areas. Keep away from electrical transmission and distribution lines, and never climb utility poles or towers. If a toy ends up inside a transformer station, call the utility provider. Don’t try to retrieve it yourself.
- Talk to your kids about powerline safety:
- Help children find safe places to play, away from utility poles, powerlines and substations.
- Remind children never to climb trees near powerlines.
- Make sure they look closely, since leaves and branches can hide the wires.
- The green boxes on lawns or in parks are also off-limits.
- Children should be reminded: if you see equipment with open doors or other issues, tell your mom and dad and have them report it to us by calling our emergency line at 613-546-1181. This line is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Working around the house
Look up for powerlines. Before you start yard work or outdoor home maintenance, look up for powerlines, including the service line that may run overhead from a hydro pole to the electricity stack on your home. Be especially aware of powerlines that may be hidden by trees.
Stay back three metres. You don’t have to touch a powerline to get a deadly shock. Electricity can jump or “arc” to you or your tools if you get too close. Have someone watch to make sure you stay at least three metres back from powerlines.
Carry ladders sideways. Never carry ladders upright as they may come in contact or close to powerlines. Check for overhead powerlines before standing a ladder up.
Call or click before you dig. Some underground cables or lines are just below the surface. Before starting your project, request a free locate by contacting Ontario One Call online or call 1-800-400-2255.
Plant trees away from overhead powerlines. If trees have already grown into the powerlines, contact your local utility or a utility arborist. Do not prune trees around powerlines yourself. Find more tree pruning and landscaping tips here.
Do you know what to do if your vehicle comes into contact with live power lines? Watch this video from Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro.
Information to protect people and properties
Power outage precautions
Residents are advised to take the following precautions.
- Plan ahead and consider a source of back-up power for important building systems, including sump pumps.
- Keep a phone that does not require electricity. Cordless phones require electricity or battery backup and may not work in a power outage. Take the opportunity when you do have power to charge critical electronic devices such as mobile phones.
- If you depend on electrically-powered medical equipment, consider having the following:
- a backup phone that does not require electricity
- an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) connected at all times
- back-up generation available
- alternative arrangements in place (such as staying with family or friends)
Household and occupant safety
- Use caution when using open flames. Never leave burning candles unattended, and keep them well away from kids and pets.
- Do not use a propane barbeque, camp stove or portable standby generator indoors. They can generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Your carbon monoxide detector may not work in an outage.
- Know safe installation and other precautions to avoid dangers associated with generators. Review the section on portable standby generators below.
- Avoid elevators until the power has been stabilized.
- The City of Kingston offers a helpful online resource to help you and your family prepare for an emergency. We recommend that all property owners maintain a kit which includes candles, a flashlight, batteries and a battery powered radio.
- Review these storm safety tips from the Electrical Safety Authority.
- Review this preventative information from City of Kingston Fire & Rescue on staying safe during a power outage.
- Know the steps you can take to keep your food safe in an emergency with this information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
- Check if your neighbours have power. If you're the only one without power, you probably have an internal power issue. In this case, you will need to locate a licensed electrical contractor.
- Turn off all appliances that will turn on automatically when power is restored.
- Power outages mean that a number of traffic signals may not be working and travellers are reminded to treat the affected intersections as though they are four-way stops and yield to traffic on the right.
Portable standby generators
Portable standby generators, when used properly, can provide an alternative power source until conventional power is restored. However, they can create electrical shock and fire hazards if connected or used incorrectly. In addition, you should never operate a generator inside your home or garage. Generators produce carbon monoxide, and if used indoors will cause a build-up of fatal fumes - fans or open windows and doors won't provide enough fresh air to keep you and your family safe.
- Never put a portable generator indoors, and when using it outdoors make sure it’s well away from your home’s windows or doors (and your neighbours’) because of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
- Don’t connect your generator to your home’s wiring unless you have a transfer switch. If you hook it up directly it could cause power to flow back out the powerlines to the street and electrocute utility workers.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions to test and run your generator at regular intervals.
- If you’re installing a permanent generator, you need a permit. The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) recommends having a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) install a back-up generator. You can find an LEC at www.esasafe.com
Get more safety tips from the Electrical Safety Authority from their page on portable standby generators.
Damage to your home's electrical system
If you have serious damage to your home's electrical system, for example due to stormy weather, we may not be able to reconnect your power until you make repairs.
Typically, a homeowner’s ownership of electrical equipment begins where the wires attach to the house. This means the wire from the pole to the house is generally the utility’s, but the wires inside the mast/pipe, the mast, and those attached to and in the house belong to you. If this equipment is damaged, you need to arrange repairs before we can safely reconnect power. Learn more about getting power restored, from the Electrical Safety Authority.
Learn more about the ownership demarcation point, where utility-owned and maintained equipment ends and the property owner’s equipment begins.
When the power goes out, Utilities Kingston crews and operators work to reinstate power as quickly and safely as possible. This involves gathering information, assessing public and worker safety, ensuring work protection, identifying and gathering resources including manpower, trucks and equipment, and carrying out the work as efficiently and safely as possible.
Check our electrical safety page to learn what happens during a power outage – both out in the field and in our operations control centre.
Utilities Kingston provides customer-focused and cost-effective multi-utility services in Kingston, Ontario, including safe and reliable electricity distribution services to over 27,000 customers in Central Kingston. While the service area is operated by the employees of Utilities Kingston, Kingston Hydro holds the Ontario Energy Board license to distribute electricity in Central Kingston.
Kingston is served by three electricity providers. Know who provides your power so you can make the right call when issues arise!
Why power flickers
Ever wonder why electricity flickers during wind and lighting storms? Here’s an explanation from our utility operators! Lighting creates a surge of electricity in the surrounding area. This surge can trip a circuit breaker, which then automatically recloses, causing a very short duration outage. Wind slapping two adjacent wires together can also cause a breaker trip and automatic reclose.