Following the storm, many areas may experience wide spread power outages. For the safety of repair crews, power companies will not begin restoration efforts until wind speeds are down below 35 miles per hour. Power outages can last from several hours to several weeks. During the wait, a portable generator can help restore life to normal, but its safe use requires care and planning.
- Always run portable generators outside the house.
- Never run generators inside, or in a garage.
Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts can and does ignite causing injury or death.
- Keep generators well away from open windows - including neighbors - so deadly exhaust does not enter the home.
- Never attempt to connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring. Power from the generator will "back feed" into utility lines and with the potential to severely injure, or kill, a neighbor or utility crew working to restore service. Instead, plug appliances directly into the generator's outlet.
- Use a heavy-duty extension cords rated for outdoor use to place the generator safely outdoors.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for grounding the generator.
- Observe noise ordinances and be considerate of your neighbors.
Using a Generator - If you are considering obtaining a generator, get advice from a licensed professional, such as an electrician. Make sure the generator is listed with Underwriter's Laboratories or a similar organization. Some municipalities have "air quality permit" requirements. A licensed electrician will be able to give you more information on these matters. Always plan to keep the generator outdoors - never operate it inside, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and back-feeding power to your home is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use.The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. Follow the directions supplied with the generator.
Under no circumstances should portable generators be used indoors! This includes inside a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. The CO from generators can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death, but CO can't be seen or smelled. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY. Because you may have windows open to get fresh air while the power is out, be sure to place the generator away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's installation instructions. If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. Test the battery frequently and replace when needed.
To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. To protect the generator from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Dry your hands if wet before touching the generator.
Your pet should be a part of your family plan. If you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost, or worse. HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO TAKE YOUR PETS. Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of states' health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
- Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species.
- Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals.
- Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
- Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.
Assemble a portable pet supplies kit:
- Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
- Food, potable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and can opener.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
When the storm approaches:
- Plan ahead to protect your pet.
- Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
- Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment's notice.
- Bring all pets into the house so that you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
- Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and are securely fastened, with up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, or of a friend or relative outside the disaster area. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet's ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen.
For more information, call your local animal control office from the list of important phone numbers above.
Eye On The Storm Blog
Important Phone Numbers
|Report Electricity Outtages (FPL)||800.4.OUTAGE|
|Report Price Gouging||800.HELP.FLA|
|"More Help" Line||800.96.ELDER|
|Palm Beach County|
|TDD (Hearing Impaired)||561.712.6343|
|Sheriff (Belle Glade)||561.996.1670|
|St. Lucie County|
|Indian River County|
|Direct Line Insurance|
|Dept. of Insurance, FL||800.342.2762|