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 nearly 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:
-Ensure that you have a back-up telephone if you use a cordless or other telephone that is dependent on electricity.
-Have a battery-powered radio on hand and a supply of fresh batteries to stay aware of news and other information.
-Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy.
What to do when the lights go out:
-Help keep LCEC’s telephone lines clear for emergency calls. Only call LCEC at 656-2300 to report downed power lines.
-Visually check your weather-head (on the roof where your service drop connects to the pole) and your meter box to make sure it is not damaged.
-Any damage to your home’s electric system must be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected by a designated agency before power to your home can be restored.
-Turn off your appliances. This will protect them when service is restored, prevent electrical fires and lessen the chances of circuit overload when service is restored. You may leave one light on to serve as a visual signal that power has been restored.
Storm Safety Tips:
-Stay clear of downed power lines. They may still be energized and dangerous. Puddles of water contacting downed lines are just as dangerous.
-Don’t trim trees or remove debris located near downed power lines. If you must remove debris from your home, don’t pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
-Residents on life support need to have an alternate plan in place to ensure the continuity of any life-support needs. This may include making special arrangements to spend time with a friend or relative during an outage or using a back-up generator.
-If operating a portable generator, keep it outside and in an open area. Carbon monoxide emissions can be harmful. Follow all instructions regarding safe operation. Do not connect the generator directly to your main electrical panel. If installed incorrectly, power could flow into outside lines and injure you, your neighbors or utility crews working in the area.
-Avoid detaining LCEC employees or contractors while they are working to restore power. This can be distracting, can cause an accident and impedes the process.
Many Southwest Florida residents use portable electric generators to power their homes during electrical outages. While generators are a convenience, they can be dangerous if used improperly.
The safest way to operate a generator is to plug appliances directly into the generator. However, customers who are utilizing a back-up generator to provide electricity to their entire home must use a double throw switch to disconnect their electric service equipment from LCEC’s system. This is necessary to prevent a dangerous back feed of energy into LCEC lines and equipment, which creates a hazard to residents, electrical equipment and unsuspecting line crews working in the area. If an automatic transfer system is proposed for this transfer function, the specific system must approved by LCEC before it may be used.
Before you buy and install a generator, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
• Determine how much electricity you need for your home. You want to be sure to buy the right size generator.
• As a safety precaution, consult with an electrician before you hook up your generator.
• Be sure when you start your generator that you place it outside where the fumes can escape without harming anyone.
For more information on storm preparedness, visit www.lcec.net.
Every year in the United States, there are countless fires and deaths that could have been avoided through electrical safety awareness and action. Being that May is electrical safety month, it is the perfect time to ensure that you and your loved ones are plugged into safety! LCEC recommends that you check the following:
Outlets and Plugs – Check for outlets that have loose-fitting plugs, which can overheat and lead to fire. Never remove the ground pin to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet; this could lead to an electrical shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
Power Cords and Extension Cords – Make sure all power cords and extension cords are not frayed or cracked. Do not place cords in high traffic areas or under carpets, rugs or furniture. Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis, not as permanent household wiring.
Light Bulbs – Check the wattage of all bulbs in lamps and light fixtures to make sure they are the correct wattage for the lamp or fixture. Make sure bulbs are screwed in securely—loose bulbs may overheat.
Circuit Breakers and Fuses – Circuit breakers and fuses should be the correct size current rating for their circuit. Always replace a fuse with the same size fuse. Create a circuit map that clearly identifies all outlets, fixtures and the major appliances each circuit serves.
Entertainment/Computer Equipment – Look for cracks or damage in wiring, plugs, and connectors. Use a surge protector bearing the seal of an independent testing laboratory such as UL, CSA, ETL or MET labs.
For more information on electrical safety, visit www.lcec.net.
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and LCEC is joining with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to raise awareness about potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates 47,700 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments each year involve some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition. These fires result in 418 civilian deaths, 1,570 civilian injuries, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage. Awareness and education are critical to reduce the incidence of electrical fires, and ESFI sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to educate the public in order to reduce the number of electrically related fires, fatalities, injuries and property loss.
In addition to electrical safety in the home, it is vital to use caution outdoors. When working or playing outdoors, check to make sure that items such as ladders, kites, booms, pool skimmers and antennas are clear of overhead power lines. 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.
For more tips on electrical safety, visit www.lcec.net. For more information on National Electrical Safety Month, visit www.esfi.org.
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