LCEC’s preparation begins long before a hurricane threatens to make landfall in Southwest Florida. To ensure LCEC has the resources needed for restoration, the organization cultivates relationships with power line and tree-trimming contractors, fuel companies, material vendors, food service vendors, other cooperatives and local agencies for back-up resources.
In addition, LCEC’s 400+ employees play a critical role in the restoration plan. Employees put their typical job responsibilities on hold to pitch in during restoration.
LCEC has a detailed restoration plan that outlines priorities of electric restoration during large power outages. LCEC’s plan first calls for restoration of essential services such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, law enforcement. Next, power is restored to the largest number of customers. The last to be restored are individual services or services that need to be reconnected after repair to their home electrical system.
LCEC does not disconnect power before a storm. The utility lets Mother Nature run her course, and begins to restore power to impacted areas once winds are at a safe level.
How customers should prepare for outages
What to do when the lights go out
Storm Safety Tips
While LCEC employees are no strangers to preparing for storm season, they recently expanded their readiness efforts to help the Lee County Homeless Coalition meet the needs of area homeless neighbors. Living outside in the elements in Southwest Florida is challenging enough but when faced with inclement weather it can be brutal. LCEC’s involvement in outreach efforts began like an old fashioned game of “telephone”.
North Fort Myers resident, Sharon Phillips, works to help the Lee County Homeless Coalition one day a week. Her husband, Jerry, is a security guard at LCEC. During a routine conversation with a few employees, Jerry mentioned his wife’s efforts to put together summer bags for the homeless. One of the employees wrote a short blurb for the weekly internal newsletter asking for donated items such as dry socks, sunscreen, hats and bug repellant. Within minutes of the newsletter being distributed to employees, the donations began coming in, including a sizable supply of never-used rain gear that did not meet fire-retardant requirements for LCEC crews, personal items, hats and socks.
More supplies are needed so employees are passing the request along through traditional and social media. The hope is that other companies and residents will donate items that can make this storm season a little more bearable for those without a home. Following is what you need to know!
Summer Bag Project – July/August
Bags will be put together by Lee County Homeless Coalition volunteers and distributed to the homeless by outreach workers. Needed items include, rain ponchos, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, lip balm, dry socks, hats, bus passes, and personal hygiene items. To help, contact Janet Bartos at email@example.com.
A non-profit organization comprised of community and faith-based service providers, local businesses, people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness. The Coalition’s mission is to advocate, educate and promote awareness of issues and obstacles facing homeless individuals in the Lee County through community collaboration, planning and implementation of solutions.
An LCEC customer called recently to report a scam happening in Cape Coral. Two men, claiming to be LCEC employees, tried to convince the customer that LCEC is now installing security alarms. Luckily, the customer called LCEC and learned that the electric utility does not install alarms. LCEC recommends that any customer ask for official identification if approached by someone claiming to be with LCEC. If in doubt, please call LCEC Customer Care at 239-656-2300 to verify the person’s identity.
Sara Szeliga talks to elementary school students as the education and outreach specialist for Talquin Electric Cooperative in Quincy, Fla. Sara teaches children about the importance of electrical safety in the home, outside, and during inclement weather.
However, it is a personal story that drives home the importance of electrical safety for the 900 students she has talked to this year.
In 1996, while playing outdoors on a padmount transformer, Sara suffered a severe shock. She had burns on her upper abdomen and had to go for weeks of follow-up tests and screenings. Sara’s message today – do not play on or near electrical equipment.
May marks National Electrical Safety Month, and although electric cooperatives across the nation, like LCEC provide safe electricity to customers year round, consumer awareness is a crucial piece to this effort.
In the United States, home electrical failures or malfunctions cause more than 50,000 fires each year, resulting in 450 deaths, nearly 1,500 injuries, and more than $1.5 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
To help prevent electrical fires and incidents, it is vital that LCEC customers understand the safety concerns associated with the latest technologies, like tablets and iPods, before bringing them into their homes or offices. This includes the installation of arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) that prevent fires by detecting arcing conditions, ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) that prevent electrical shock, and tamper resistant receptacles that replace standard wall outlets.
When working or playing outdoors, check to make sure equipment is well clear of overhead power lines, including ladders, kites, booms, fruit-picking poles, pool skimmers, antennas, and satellites. Never play on transformers or other electrical equipment. Never touch or attempt to move a downed power line. Remember that power lines are underground as well. Before you dig, call 811 to have utility lines marked safely.
Being proactive about safety will help keep accidents and injuries at bay.
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