As Hurricane Irma appears poised to strike South Florida early Sunday — and potentially other states including Georgia, Tennessee and North and South Carolina soon after, depending on its path — the powerful Category 4 storm has left a swath of disaster, and power outages, in its wake.
Already, the storm has left 1 million people in Puerto Rico without power, according to the International Business Times, and authorities have warned the territory could be blacked out for months.
One prediction, from the universities of Ohio State, Texas A&M and Michigan, estimated at 6 a.m. Friday that over 2,500,000 people in Florida, Georgia and small portions of Tennessee and South Carolina are at risk of losing power and electricity.
Specifically, those in Miami have between a 40-50 percent chance of losing power, according to the projection, while those in Jacksonville and Tampa have between a 30-40 percent chance.
For most of Florida, there is about a 30-40 percent chance of power outages, while those in some parts of South Florida have less than a 10 percent chance of losing their electricity.
The majority of Georgia, including Atlanta, also have a less than 10 percent chance of power outages — with the southern part of the state mostly at a 20-30 percent chance.
And according to the prediction, small southern portions of South Carolina and Tennessee range from an under 10 percent to 30-40 percent chance of losing power.
On Tuesday, Florida Power & Light urged customers to “to prepare for potentially prolonged power outages” from Hurricane Irma.
If you’re preparing to weather the storm with a generator, be careful.
Between 2004 and 2014, 751 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning brought on from use of a generator — and running it wrong for just five minutes can be fatal.
If you’re going to use a generator, use it outside of your home in a well-ventilated area. Don’t place it within 15 feet of any opening and especially don’t place them next to windows, doors, vents, basements or crawlspaces.
Make sure the generator’s exhaust doesn’t enter your home, and if you live in a high-rise, don’t run it on your balcony. That could endanger your neighbors.
Oh, and just to be safe, buy a carbon monoxide detector, as the fatal chemical is odorless and colorless.