June 1st marked the beginning of hurricane season and there was already one named storm – Tropical Storm Ana - before the season even began. While the PowerWright Hurricane Committee is busy preparing for what is predicted to be an active season in 2021, it will hold its mock hurricane exercise next week to ensure the company and employees are prepared in the event of a hurricane.
As most Floridians know, a hurricane inevitably means “lights out” for an extended period of time. Although utilities have made progress over the years by hardening the grid, if a hurricane lands, losing power is still unavoidable.
Here are a few tips on what to do before, during, and after a power outage:
How to plan beforehand:
Have lots of batteries and battery powered LED flashlights or lanterns on hand. LED powered lights last longer, are brighter, and take up less power. Avoid using candles, especially where children or pets are present to prevent fire hazards.
Purchase a portable power bank battery pack for your cell phone. There are many kinds to choose from ranging from $20 to more than $100 depending on how many charges you want to get out of it for your phone.
Have plenty of heavy blankets on hand to cover windows if you don’t have heavy drapes. This will keep your house cooler by keeping the sunlight out.
Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full at all times. Gas stations are always overrun when a hurricane landfall is predicted. Also, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps, so you won’t be able to get any gas during a power outage.
Get a generator – even a small one. It’s an investment you won’t regret once it comes time to use it. Get gas for your generator ahead of time and add a fuel preservative, such as STA-BIL, to keep the gas from going bad in the container for up to 24 months.
If you have a generator, you should also consider purchasing a window A/C unit. After hurricanes, the heat and humidity tend to be high.
Connect your electronics to surge protectors to safeguard them from power surges and voltage spikes which can damage your equipment.
Stock up on lots of bottled water, canned goods, and consider getting a small portable grill which costs about $20.
Get ice packs to keep in your freezer that you can use to keep food cold in coolers, or even in your refrigerator.
It’s always best to have a first aid kit on-hand but it’s especially important to have one if there is no power and limited to no-movement after a storm.
What to do during a power outage:
If you need to evacuate, never drive over downed power lines!
Save the battery life on your phone by going into your settings to turn off the Wi-Fi and switch to low power mode.
Disconnect all appliances and electronic devices, especially those not connected to surge protectors.
If you have a generator, never run it indoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Select one room in which people and pets can spend most of the time together using the window A/C unit and/or heavy blankets to cover the windows in order to keep everyone comfortable.
Use your grill, only outdoors, to cook the perishable food items first to save them from spoiling.
Open your refrigerator/freezer only when absolutely necessary. A refrigerator can keep food safe for hours after losing power and a freezer can keep food frozen for up to 48 hours without power.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially if it’s hot.
What to do once electricity is restored:
When in doubt – throw it out! If you are unsure if food is still good, it’s best to be safe and throw it out.
Wait a few minutes before plugging everything back in as there could be power surges and then plug in the devices that are connected to surge protectors first.
Make sure everything is disconnected from your generator before turning it off.
Stay away from downed power lines or fallen tree limbs (where downed power lines can hide).