What occurs during an electrical emergency?
Electricity always tries to find the easiest and quickest path to the ground. If you get in the way, electricity could pass through you to get there! Contact with electricity can cause:
- Electrical Shock - This is when electrical current passes through the body. Even a small shock can be frightening and painful;
- Burns - An electrical current can burn the skin, nerves, muscles, and tissues in the body; and
- Death - A severe electrical shock can cause problems with a person’s breathing and heartbeat, possibly leading to death.
What do I do in an electrical emergency?
If you find yourself in or witnessing an electrical emergency, here is a list of some things to keep in mind. Report electrical emergencies to your Area Office.
- Downed Wire - Stay away from all downed wires, even if there are no sparks. Do not touch anything or any person that is touching downed wire. Get help right away;
- Downed Wire Touching a Vehicle - If you are inside the vehicle, stay inside and wait until help arrives. If you must get out,for example if the car is on fire, jump clear of the vehicle without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Shuffle your feet, do not run away. If you are a witness, stay clear and call for help;
- Electrical Fire - Get help right away. If possible, and without putting yourself in danger, unplug the faulty appliance or turn off the power. Never throw water on an electrical fire; and
- Electrical Shock - Never touch a person who is being shocked. Call for help immediately.
What do I do when trees are touching my power lines?
Do not touch the tree in any way. Call an EQUS Area Office immediately and we will send someone out to determine what action is required.
How do I stay safe near power lines?
Maintaining safety standards and using proper safety procedures near power lines is absolutely necessary. Electricity can be extremely dangerous. Injuries and death near power lines are all too common and unnecessary. Anytime you are working around power lines you need to be aware of the safety factors, possible hazards and use common sense when making decisions regarding what you plan to do around those power lines. A few key points to consider are:
- When moving any long metal objects, be aware of where the power lines are. One wrong move could result in an electrocution; and
- Stay clear on any downed power lines! It is not possible to tell if a line is "live" simply by looking at it. If you see a downed power line on your property, or even someone else's, do not touch anything and call an EQUS Area Office immediately.
When moving equipment, loads, or working on buildings keep these safety tips in mind:
- Keep a safe working distance between your equipment and power lines. For example, keep your auger in the down position;
- Follow the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Regulations;
- Before operating equipment, take time to plan a safe route that prevents contact with any power line(s); and
- Take the time to incorporate extra care and precautions. Your life is far more valuable than a few extra minutes or even hours.
If you are ever unsure of anything, please call your Area Office and we will be more than happy to assist you in any way possible.
REMEMBER: IT'S ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.
Power Outage FAQs
What causes a power outage?
- Trees, limbs or branches touching or knocked down by wind, snow or ice into power lines;
- Lightning which strikes a transformer or other electrical facilities;
- Car accidents where utility poles are knocked over or sway enough to knock the lines together and trip the circuit;
- Equipment overload, especially on hot days when air conditioning usage is high, or during extremely cold weather when electric heaters are turned up throughout the electrical system;
- Digging too close to lines or cutting a line;
- Animals that contact the lines; and
- Circuit overloads within your own home. Check your fuses and breakers first. If they continue to trip off, call an electrician to fix the problem.
To report an outage or to get more information, please call your Area Office.
What should I keep in mind in the event of a power outage?
- Communication: Communication is essential during power outages. Cordless or extension phones that require electricity won't work during an outage so be sure to have a phone that works during an outage. Keep your veterinarian's phone number handy for any problems with your livestock. Keep your electrician's phone number readily available for any problems with your emergency and standby units.
- Lighting: This may seem obvious- but "do you know where your flashlight is and do you even have a flashlight?" Could you find it in the dark? Do you have spare batteries for it or if it is a rechargeable one, is it charged?
- Review your operation: Identify any must-run equipment and any non-essential load that can be reduced. Please wait for 10 to 15 minutes after the power has been restored before you turn everything back on. This gives the electrical system time to stabilize. This is particularly critical in the winter. For information on stand-by generators, please call your Area Office.
- During the outage: During any outage, turn off any lights, all major appliances and if you have electric heat, lower the setting. By reducing the amount of power we have to restore helps to avoid an overload outage caused by the initial power bursts during service restoration. This is particularly important if the outage is extensive. Leave one light on so you will know when the power has been restored.
- Livestock protection during cold weather outages: Ventilation and heat retention are essential to protect your livestock. For operations with small numbers of livestock:
- Keep barn doors closed to retain the heat;
- Open windows and doors slightly to allow for ventilation; and
- A warming area can be made with straw bales and a plastic tarp to keep out drafts for younger livestock.
- Minimize stress on your livestock: Ensure extra feed and water is available. Remember that you cannot grind or mix feed or pump water when there is no power. Each type of farm animal (e.g., cow, sheep, chicken, etc.) has unique needs during a power outage. Be prepared to minimize the stress on your animals. Make sure your standby generator has adequate capacity to run your essential equipment.
- Farm computers: Backup your computer files frequently. Consider buying an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for critical computers and other equipment. This provides temporary battery backup to allow you to save data and safely turn off the computer without losing any valuable data.
- Moving equipment around power lines: No one shall construct, place buildings or other objects within the minimum clearances of overhead equipment or lines. If you are unsure of the acceptable distance, please contact your Area Office.
- Property Access: The REA will require access to your property for emergency service work and meter reading. If you plan to have access to your property restricted by a locked gate, we will need to put our lock on your chain as well.
What does EQUS do during an outage?
We realize that power outages can be inconvenient, whether they are planned outages or emergencies. The following will help you understand EQUS' power restoration process:
- Safety is our first priority. Crews first work to clear downed power lines and ensure that essential public services have power in case of other emergencies;
- Once the problem has been identified and any critical downed power lines are cleared, our crews work to restore power to the greatest number of members as quickly as possible; and
- Power is then restored to any other individual members that may still be experiencing an outage.
Please note that if any storm damage occurs at the electric meter base or to conduit or to circuits inside your home, you need to have an electrician fix the problem before EQUS can restore power to your home.
What is a pre-planned outage?
Pre-planned outages are scheduled times when EQUS must turn the power off in specific areas to carry out preventative maintenance on power poles, lines and other system equipment or for new construction. The maintenance helps ensure that our electrical system stays problem-free and provides our members with reliable power. In the event that you are in an area where there is construction going on, your patience is very much appreciated.
Please refer to the Power Outages section on this website to find out more about current power outages.
Will I be contacted about a power outage?
Whenever possible, EQUS tries to provide members with two days’ notice. If you do not have an answering machine or voicemail, EQUS is unable to leave a message; however, we make up to three attempts to reach members to advise them of a power outage.
NOTE: If it is imperative that a member have power at all times, then members are encouraged to purchase a stand-by generator; either taking advantage of EQUS' at-cost member rate for Generac equipment or from an alternate supplier.
If you were not contacted about an outage, please call your Area Office to inform us and to ensure that your account reflects the current contact information.
In the event of a power outage, your first step before calling EQUS is to check your breaker box, to ensure the outage is not a result of an internal issue.
What else can I do when a power outage occurs?
To better prepare you and your family in the case of a power outage or emergency, below are some tips on what to do during an outage, how we work to restore your power and the primary causes of power outages.
- Before calling EQUS, check your breaker on the service (transformer) pole and breaker box to determine if the cause of the outage is a tripped breaker or fuse box. Look for lights at your neighbours' homes to see if they are affected;
- If it's not a breaker or fuse box, call to report the outage at 1.888.211.4011. To help process your information more quickly, have your account number handy. EQUS works hard to keep outage information current, so a recorded message may inform you that your outage was already reported. Please call only once to report your outage. The company may request you call again later for outage updates;
- Turn off all electrical equipment to prevent overloading the circuits in your home - and the company's electrical system - when power is restored. Most major appliances can be turned off at your breaker box; and
- If your lights are very dim or are unusually bright when the power returns, turn off the power at the breaker or fuse box and call again. There may still be a problem.
How can I prepare for power outages?
Prepare for outages ahead of time. Keep an emergency kit handy including the following:
- Battery-operated radio
- Battery-operated clock
- Extra batteries
- Bottles of water
Be sure and check in on any friends and neighbours who may need extra help.
When should I consider a standby generator?
If it is essential for you to have uninterrupted power on your property due to livestock care, health issues or other vital reasons you may want to install your own generator with a bypass switch.
- If you use one, please do so with caution since generators can pose serious safety hazards when improperly used or installed. Remember to always follow the manufacturer's instructions;
- Never plug your generator into an outlet, and don't connect a generator directly to your home's main fuse box or circuit panel;
- If you must provide temporary power to your home's wiring system, the generator must be connected through an approved transfer switch that will isolate your house from our system. The switch must comply with the National Electric Code and local building codes. These include permits, inspection and installation by a licensed electrician;
- To temporarily power an appliance, plug it directly into the generator;
- Use properly sized and grounded extension cords and locate cords where don't present a tripping hazard; and
- Always properly ventilate a portable generator. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly;
Make sure that the total electric load on your generator won't exceed the generator's rating.
General Service FAQs
How do I book a high load move?
If you are moving a high load and the load is over 4.8 metres, you are required by Alberta Transportation to complete an EQUS High Load Request Form and submit it to EQUS for review and authorization. Once it has been determined by EQUS whether or not an escort is required, you will be notified. There is no charge to have an EQUS representative check the route. However, should the load require an escort, an hourly fee will be applicable.
How do I order a new service?
To a new service, please contact your Area Office.
The following information is required to begin the process:
- First and last name of the land owner;
- Contact information; and
- Legal land description.
How do I request a change to my current service?
Requesting a change to your current service includes transformer or breaker upgrade/downgrade, moving power poles (service move) and removing a service (salvage). Please call your EQUS Area Office and speak with an Area Service Administrator, who will be happy to help you determine what type of work order is required.
What is a utility right-of-way?
A legal document that gives EQUS the right to access land solely for the purpose of maintaining the electrical distribution system (poles, wires, etc.)
Why do I need to complete a Utility Right-of-Way?
EQUS must maintain the distribution system to provide electricity to members. A utility right-of-way is a legal document that ensures these interests are protected.
How do I properly complete the Utility Right-of-Way?
You may complete this document on your own and have it commissioned by a Commissioner of Oaths or you are welcome to bring your Utility Right-of-Way document into an EQUS Area Office where we would be pleased to assist you, free of charge. Taking the time to come into an office ensures accuracy and allows you to meet members of the EQUS team.
All members are free to purchase electricity services through EQUS’ regulated rate tariff or from a retailer of their choice. The delivery of electricity to you is not affected by your choice. If you change who you purchase electricity services from, you will continue receiving electricity from EQUS. For a current list of retailers you may choose from, visit http://www.ucahelps.alberta.ca or call 310.4822 (toll free in Alberta).