She’s got BC Hydro on speed dial

Don't count on others to call in when the power goes out

If your power goes out, don’t wait for someone else to report it. Report it yourself.

I was reading news articles on my computer and listening to TV after lunch January 14 when the room, computer and TV went dark and silent.

I wasn’t surprised. A wild wind had been blowing since midnight accompanied by rain.

No lights showed at my neighbours. But that was normal. Was anyone home? Couldn’t tell.

The clock read 12:50 p.m.

I sipped coffee and waited, certain if others were affected by a general power outage, at least half a dozen of them would have reported it to BC Hydro already. Why should I call, too? I’d only be adding to the queue.

Still, on my last dental visit – during a power outage in midtown Terrace – my dentist told me how once they had waited hours for the power to return only to discover no one else had reported the outage caused by the nearby transformer. His call was the first notifying BC Hydro a repair crew was needed.

What if I was waiting for someone else to make the call while they were waiting for me to make the call?

Fifteen minutes after the outage began, I phoned 1-888-769-3766 to speak to BC Hydro. They had received no word of a power outage in my Kirkaldy subdivision.

“Did you hear a bang before the power went out?” the lady asked.

“No,” I said. Of that I was certain. Last summer, when a crow perched on the wrong part of a transformer located above my cherry tree the result exploded our peace and the crow.

Following that incident I jotted down BC Hydro’s phone number for reporting outages at the top of my handy dandy directory of phone numbers most likely to be needed in a crisis.

In any emergency, I forget the most mundane information, operate on automatic pilot. Searching for any government phone number while stressed, and in this case in the dark, emphasizes the benefit of safety drills.

“Check the breakers in your home,” the lady advised. “If the outage is in your house and we dispatch the repair crew, you will be charged. Also check with your neighbours, see if they have power. If they don’t, it will give us an idea of the scope of this outage. Then call me back.”

Flashlight in hand, I opened the fuse box and flipped the main breaker switch one way, then the other. All switches faced were on. Still no power.

I phoned my son-in-law living five blocks away. His family, too, was in the dark, his work at a standstill.

I called Hydro back. A young man answered. BC Hydro still had no notification of a Terrace area power outage.

He took my name and street address, and the address of my son-in-law.

As proof of how my brain blanks out when stressed, though my son-in-law’s family has lived at their current address for more than 20 years, I couldn’t recall his house number. The closest I could come was his block. But that was sufficiently accurate for Hydro.

“I’ll issue a callout order,” the young man said.

How long would it take for a crew to respond? Were they busy elsewhere after our wind of the night before?

I could do nothing but wait. Rain darkened my kitchen almost too much to read. I managed, though, seated as close as possible to a window. Time inched along.

Finally power resumed about 2:30 p.m. Fluorescents hummed. Computer rebooted. TV blasted a commercial.

Next power outage I won’t wait for someone else to call Hydro.

I’ll report the outage myself after checking my breaker switch and phoning a neighbour.