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Electrical Safety During Hurricanes

North Carolina has an extensive history with hurricanes.  Ever since the first expeditions to Roanoke Island in 1586, hurricanes have made their mark upon the state.

The most powerful hurricane that hit North Carolina was Hurricane Hazel in 1954. However, in 1996 North Carolina was hit directly by Tropical Storm Arthur, Hurricane Bertha, and Hurricane Fran.  Hurricane Fran was the most costly hurricane to North Carolina causing 1.275 billion dollars worth of damage after hitting Wilmington and the Raleigh-Durham area.

With a hurricane hitting the coastline of North Carolina on an average of every four years, it is not a question of if you’re going to experience a hurricane, but when. It is essential to know how to prepare for a hurricane and what actions to take during and after a hurricane.

Preparing for the Hurricane:

  • Make sure flashlights, battery powered lanterns and other sources of light are readily available.
  • Make sure flashlights and radio batteries are fresh.
  • Make sure you have an adequate supply of medicine, first aid supplies, and baby items.
  • Keep at least two weeks supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, batteries and firewood on hand.
  • Make sure if prescriptions are essential to get them refilled in case of an extended power outage or extensive damage to the area.
  • Make sure to have identification and documentation on hand such as social security card, driver’s license, birth certificate, and insurance information for your home, car, and life.
  • Have an evacuation plan for yourself and your family in case of an extended power outage.
  • Listen to weather forecasts and predictions for possible hurricanes – hurricane season is typically in the late summer and early fall.

During the Hurricane:

  • Make sure to get inside a building and stay away from the windows.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended and keep them away from the furniture, draperies and other flammable materials.  Make sure to keep children away from open flames.
  • Don’t open freezers and refrigerators any more than absolutely necessary.
  • Listen to local radio stations for news about power outages.
  • Turn off your heating and air conditioning systems as well as electric range.
  • Unplug sensitive electronic appliances such as TVs, VCRs, microwave ovens and computers – this will protect your appliances against power fluctuations that can occur when power is restored.
  • After power is restored, be sure to wait five to ten minutes before turning on appliances and heating systems.

After the Hurricane:

  • If power lines and poles are down in your yard or in the street, always treat them as if they are energized and dangerous.  Never touch them and stay away.  Make sure to call your local utility company. 
  • Post-storm debris can hide power lines that have fallen.  Fallen trees that contain energized power lines can electrocute any item it comes in contact with, such as a metal fence, a pond or standing water.  Even the ground can be energized near fallen power lines.
  • If your electricity is out make sure to check with neighbors to see if they have power.  If they do have power, you may have only a blown fuse or a tripped breaker.  Never replace a fuse or reset a circuit breaker with wet hands or while standing on a wet (or damp) surface.
  • If you’re without electricity and want to use a portable generator, make sure to use it in a well-ventilated area. 
  • Avoid using candles if possible.  If you must, never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • If power remains out following a storm and you must cook with Sterno or charcoal, make sure to do so outside to avoid the build-up of deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Replenish your supplies of batteries, bottle water, non-perishable food items and firewood for future hurricanes.

 

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