Tampa Electric offers tips for storm readiness

TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA - Should Tropical Storm Fay impact the area, Tampa Electric has a comprehensive response plan to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.

Customers are also encouraged to implement their personal storm plans. In addition to the numerous precautions area residents can take to protect their families and property, the company offers a few key tips:

• Stay away from any downed power lines. These lines may still be energized. If so, they are dangerous. Downed lines do not have to pop and snap to be energized. All persons should avoid any contact with any downed line or any object, such as a tree branch, fence, vehicle or even water that has come in contact with a downed power line.

It is safest to assume any downed power line is energized.

• Use portable generators safely. DO NOT connect a portable generator to home circuits. Plug appliances directly to the generator. Connecting a generator to home circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, posing life-threatening danger to restoration crews. Also, portable generator must NOT be taken into a residence or any enclosed space where deadly carbon monoxide gasses could build up. There are also other devices, such as invertors, that can provide some emergency backup power for small appliances through an automobile engine. (Note: this should not be done in a closed garage.)

• Obtain a telephone that plugs directly into the wall jack. Portable household telephones won’t work without electricity and area cell phone systems could be disrupted.

• In the event of an outage, prepare the home for power restoration. Customers should make sure their homes are ready to safely receive electricity once power has been restored. Make sure there are no flammable items on the stove, no irons left on or other potentially dangerous situations. Turn off as many appliances as possible that require electricity and turn them on one by one after power is restored. This causes less stress to the power system and ensures that all customers get restored without unnecessary delays. Customers may want to leave their front porch light on to let you know when power is restored. When in doubt, or when leaving the home for an extended period, customers should switch off their power at the main breaker.

A storm of Fay’s magnitude is likely to result in damage to the electrical system and power outages that could be widespread. Electric service is restored in a pre-determined order of priority. Facilities identified as “critical” to public health and safety by governmental agencies, such as hospitals, disaster centers and main police and fire stations, come first. This way, these critical agencies can assist with other storm-related problems or injuries.

For the protection of public health, primary water and sewer installations are next, followed by all others, including communication service providers, schools, nursing homes, supermarkets, home improvement/building supply centers, insurance facilities, etc.

Due to the configuration of the power system, part of a residential subdivision could have its power restored while another is still without power. All residential areas are considered equally important, and Tampa Electric works safely and quickly to restore service to all.

When a major storm's arrival is imminent, Tampa Electric coordinates with utilities and contractors across the nation to mobilize crews toward Florida. Tampa Electric's crews are placed on call so that they are available to repair any damage affecting Tampa Electric's lines and equipment, but only when they can do so safely, typically when winds have slowed below 40 mph.

In situations where there is general damage throughout the area, such as the aftermath of a hurricane, Tampa Electric urges customers to limit their calls to the company, except to report an emergency situation, such as a downed power line.

When there are widespread outages throughout the electrical system, calling more than once to report an individual power outage does not help restore the power faster, but does tie up the telephone lines, preventing emergencies from being reported.



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