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Are you ready for hurricane season?

Posted at 10:29 AM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2019-07-02 10:54:01-04

Several years have passed since the last hurricane directly impacted the United States, but it's only a matter of time before the next one does.

It's easy to get complacent, but history has proven that storms can result in extensive property damage and widespread power outages. A lack of preparation and inadequate planning can leave many feeling vulnerable to the powerful effects of Mother Nature. There are steps you can take before, during and after a storm to help you and your family stay safe.

When it comes to hurricanes, you can't over prepare.

Just ask Iliana Rentz. She is manager of emergency preparedness for Florida Power & Light Company, the largest energy company in the state, serving more than 4.8 million customer accounts. FPL has endured several hurricanes, including the record-breaking storm seasons of 2004 and 2005, which affected millions of Floridians.

Since then, FPL has invested more than $2 billion to make its energy grid stronger and smarter to help get the communities it serves back to normal faster following a hurricane.

The company has prepared and strengthened its system by clearing tree limbs and branches from power lines; inspecting poles for strength; upgrading poles from wood to concrete or steel; and inspecting power lines and equipment with infrared technology to detect issues before they become problems for customers.

FPL is prepared for storm season. Are you?

Follow these tips to help you prepare and keep your family safe this storm season:

</strong></figure><p></p><p><strong>Before a storm threatens

Have your trees properly trimmed by a specially trained line-clearing specialist to minimize their potential impact on your home and neighborhood. Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement when trash pickup is suspended.

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

Preparing for an approaching storm

Locate and keep a copy of your power bill with you.

Call your local emergency management office if you or anyone you know has special needs in case of evacuation.

Install an approved hurricane shutter system over windows and doors.

Emergency operations officials urge residents to prepare to be self-sufficient for up to 14 days. Keep a battery-operated radio with you and a two-week supply of fresh batteries. Also stock up on: non-perishable food, medications, baby supplies, pet food and bottled water — the American Red Cross recommends one gallon of water per person per day.

Check emergency equipment: flashlights, battery-operated radios and extension cords.

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

Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment.

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

After the storm

Do not travel or venture in the dark until it is safe to do so. Stay away from standing water and debris, which could potentially conceal a live wire.

Watch for downed power lines and do not attempt to touch them. Call 911 or your power company (FPL customers, call 800-4OUTAGE) to report fallen power lines.

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.

Portable generator tips

Never run generators inside your home or garage, as they produce potentially deadly carbon-monoxide fumes. Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home or business.

Buy a battery-operated carbon-monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.  Always thoroughly read the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the safe operation of your generator.

"At FPL, we've worked hard to put ourselves in the best possible position to respond to severe weather and restore our customers' power safely and as quickly as possible after a storm strikes," said Rentz. "We prepare our employees year-round and continuously strengthen our grid so we're ready to respond when our customers need us the most. Just like FPL has a plan, we encourage our customers to have a plan, too."

For more tips on how to stay safe and prepare for 2016 storm season, visit www.FPL.com/storm

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