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Hurricane Ian shows the importance of being prepared for the next power outage



Sponsored by Preferred Air Conditioning & Mechanical:


Hurricane Ian devastated Florida, from the winds and storm surge in the southwestern part of the state to the heavy rain throughout the peninsula.


Nearly 2 million Floridians lost their power. As the state works with utility companies to get the lights back on, it may be a good moment for those of us in Southeast Florida, who were spared the worst of Ian, to think through our emergency plans for when the next storm comes our way.


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Simple preparation could protect your home and your family during the next power outage, as well as the health hazards that come with it:


  • Make a list of items in your home that rely on electricity, including water faucets and air conditioning units.


  • Fill empty containers with fresh water and store them in your basement or closets. Having fresh water available for toilet flushing, bathing and drinking is essential during an extended power outage.


  • Purchase a flashlight and fresh batteries for every member of your family. Keep those flashlights handy, and make sure everyone knows where they are.


  • Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors. These protective devices are essential if you plan to use a generator during an outage.


  • Write down the phone numbers for your utility company, as well as contact information for emergency management and first responders.


  • Keep your smartphones on their chargers when not in use. Having a fully charged phone will help you communicate in an emergency.


  • Make sure you have plenty of shelf-stable food. You may need to create meals using foods that do not have to be heated.

  • If you plan to use a generator, make sure it is properly ventilated with nothing blocking the ventilation, and double-check the ventilation while the generator is in use.


  • Keep the doors tightly closed on your refrigerator and freezer. These appliances can warm up quickly once the electricity is cut off, and the more you open the doors, the faster they will heat up.


  • Place a thermometer inside the refrigerator and freezer after the power has been restored. Throw away perishable items if the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.


  • Disconnect sensitive electronics, including large appliances, televisions and computers, for the duration of a power outage. These devices could be damaged by a power surge when the electricity is restored.


  • Use a portable, battery-powered radio to get news and emergency updates. Make sure you have plenty of spare batteries for the radio.


  • Call the emergency hotline for your electricity supplier as soon as the power goes out. Ask the company to call you back once the power has been restored.


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Chances are you rely on electricity more than you realize, and you might not see the extent of that reliance until the power goes out. From getting a drink of water for the kids to flushing the toilet to keeping your family cool, electricity is vital to modern life.


Hurricane season lasts until the end of November, so it is important to make plans now. When the power goes out, the conveniences you take for granted go away, and an extended power outage can create health hazards from spoiled food to a faulty generators filling the home with carbon monoxide. To protect yourself, act before the next storm.

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