The Miami Herald

With electricity, it's safety first

Power outages may be inevitable during a storm, but you should be aware of potential electrical hazards and ways to minimize your risk. Below are electricity-related tips to keep your home and family safe during hurricane season, courtesy of Florida Power & Light (FPL).

Before a storm

This year, FPL launched a website that allows customers of the state's largest electric utility to map their neighborhoods and learn about improvements to electrical infrastructure, such as inspections of distribution poles and transmission structures.

The site, www.fpl.com/storm, also provides tips on preparing for a storm and information on FPL's power restoration plans in the event of a hurricane.

For information specific to your neighborhood, click on the link that reads, ''System Improvements in Your Neighborhood'' and enter an address.

While FPL's site gives customers a new tool to keep informed and interact with the electric utility, don't forget the old-fashioned preparations that will help you get through a storm:

• Before hurricane season begins June 1, have your trees properly trimmed to minimize their potential impact on your home and neighborhood. Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning when trash pickup may be suspended.

• Do not attempt to trim any vegetation growing on or near any overhead power lines. Only trained line-clearing professionals should work around power lines. Check your local listings to locate a contractor qualified to trim vegetation around power lines.

• If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for back-up power or make arrangements to relocate when a storm warning is issued.

If a storm approaches

• Before lowering a TV antenna or satellite dish, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV, and avoid power lines.

• Turn off all pool pumps and filters, and wrap them in waterproof materials.

• Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings ahead of time to keep food fresh longer in the event of an outage.

• Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment.

• When working on a ladder, look up and note the location of power lines before you begin. Be sure that ladders or scaffolds are far enough away so that you -- and the ends of the tools you're using -- don't come within 10 feet of power lines.

When is it safe?

• Stay away from standing water and debris, which could potentially conceal a live wire.

• Don't venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous.

• Watch for downed power lines. Call 911 or FPL at 800-4-OUTAGE to report fallen power lines that present a clear danger to you or others. Do not attempt to touch any electrical power lines, and keep your family away from them. Always assume that every power line is energized.

• If your roof or windows leak, water in your walls and ceiling may come into contact with electrical wiring. Immediately turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances that are still plugged in, and turn off all wall switches. Remember, never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.

Source: Florida Power & Light




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