Hurricane power outages are different from your typical thunderstorm-related outages, as many GVEC members experienced during Hurricane Harvey. It may take longer for power to be restored because of unsafe conditions. You may face additional hazards around your home such as damaged roofs, broken windows, fallen trees or downed power lines.
While we hope for the best—that storms will pass us by—it’s important to always be prepared for the worst. Here are some preparation and safety tips that can help make the best out of a bad situation:
Always Have a Hurricane Kit Ready
Pack boxes or plastic totes with first aid kits, battery-operated radios and fans, candles, matches or candle strikers, batteries, and flashlights. Other useful supplies to pack are can openers, fire extinguishers, scissors, pliers, a wrench, pens and pencils. Label these kits clearly, and store them where you can find and access them easily. Take stock of the items in your kit annually, replacing anything expired or damaged. Test batteries and flashlights, as well as your battery-operated radio.
Stay Informed and Plan Ahead
Pay close attention to the weather forecast, and stay informed of worsening or changing weather conditions. Do as much ahead of time to prepare as possible. Waiting until the last minute could result in empty grocery store shelves and not being able to find supplies you need.
Fill up your vehicles ahead of time, as gas pumps require electricity to operate. If you are evacuated, you don’t want to risk waiting in long lines at gas stations or not being able to find a gas station that hasn’t run out of fuel.
Stock up on enough bottled water and nonperishable food items to last a few days. Select foods that can be eaten without being heated. Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils and baby wipes are also good to have on hand. Buy and store extra ice in your freezer in case you need to transfer any medicines or perishable food items to ice chests if power goes out and isn’t restored before your refrigerator/freezer starts warming up. A freezer will keep its temperature for approximately 24-48 hours if the doors remain closed.
Be Familiar with Your Electric Garage Door
This is easy to forget about until you need to leave your home and find you can’t exit your garage. Electric garage doors have a manual release lever. Know where it is and how to operate it. Practice this, and make sure it is in good working order before a storm hits and power is lost.
Charge Up and Unplug
If you know a hurricane is heading your way, charge up your devices. Fully charge your laptops, phones and tablets, and keep them plugged in until you actually lose power, giving you as much battery life as possible. This way, you won’t lose all means of communication and information.
If you do experience an outage, be sure to turn off and unplug everything you can from electrical outlets—especially major electronics and large appliance. This helps prevent overloaded circuits when power is restored. When power comes back on, plug in and turn on items one at a time.
Practice Generator Safety
If you plan to use a generator during a power outage, be familiar with the machine and know how to use it safely! Read and follow manufacturer instructions; make sure nothing is already plugged into it when you turn it on. Be sure to operate generators in dry, open, well -ventilated, outdoor areas. Generators produce carbon monoxide, and inhaling this invisible, odorless emission can be fatal. Never attempt to power you house by plugging a generator into a wall outlet or wiring it to a circuit board. This can cause backfeeding onto powerlines, posing very dangerous risks to linemen working to restore power.
Avoid Downed Power Lines
Be aware of your surroundings in the aftermath of a storm. If you encounter downed power lines in your yard or when driving, stay away and report it to GVEC or the local utility and emergency responders immediately. The line could still be energized—energizing the ground and things around it. Stay inside your home or car, and keep others away from the line until the proper authorities arrive and make sure the line is de-energized. Never take a chance just because the line looks damaged or isn’t sparking or buzzing.
While hurricanes and other natural disasters may sometimes be unavoidable, you can control how prepared you are when and if they occur. Being informed and staying safe is top priority—including knowing how to report your outage to GVEC! Check out the way you can report and stay update on outages in our Outage Reporting and Tracking blog!