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Follow these guidelines when storms knock out power

Hurricane Charley’s winds bent and crushed many of the power poles on Sanibel Island in 2004. Downed lines can pose deadly hazards in the aftermath of a storm.

Times (2004)

Hurricane Charley’s winds bent and crushed many of the power poles on Sanibel Island in 2004. Downed lines can pose deadly hazards in the aftermath of a storm.

What should I do if I see a fallen power line?

Call your electric utility. Treat all downed power lines as if they are electrified and extremely dangerous. NEVER touch a downed power line, never drive over a downed line and never touch anything in contact with a downed line. If a power line falls on a vehicle, do not touch the vehicle or the line; stay inside the vehicle until help arrives. Post-storm debris can hide fallen power lines.

What should I do if a tree or branches have fallen on a power line?

Never try to remove a tree or branch from a power line. Instead, call your electric utility.

How should I prepare my computer when a hurricane is threatening?

Important data should be backed up and the discs stored in a secure location. If you leave the house, unplug the computer, disconnect phone and cable lines and make sure equipment such as printers and other peripherals that are attached to the computer also are disconnected. If the computer is on the floor and you're in a flood-prone area, it's probably best to put it in an elevated space.

What other safety steps should I take as I wait for my power to be restored?

Turn off as many electrical appliances as possible and turn them on one by one after power is restored (this causes less stress to the electric system). If you use a portable generator, run it only in a well-ventilated area. DO NOT connect a generator to your home's electrical circuits. Use a battery-operated flashlight or lantern instead of candles. If you cook with Sterno or a charcoal or gas grill, do so only in a well-ventilated area, never in the house or in the garage.

If my power goes out, can I still make phone calls?

If nearby cell towers are still operating, you can make calls on a charged cell phone. Charge your phone as a storm draws near, and get a charger that operates off your car battery so you can use your phone even if the power is out for a long time.

Corded landline phones should still work, but cordless landline phones, which need electricity to operate, will not. A power outage will also knock out broadband phone service and other Internet-based phone carriers. Bright House Networks' digital phone service uses an electrically powered modem with a built-in battery that will provide backup power for several hours in a power outage.

What happens if banks are closed and ATMs don't work after a storm because the power is out?

After a storm, banks can move generators, mobile ATMs or mobile branch offices into afflicted areas. The decision about where to place them depends on parking availability and the anticipated length of the power outage.

Should I call the electric company if the power goes out? Don't they know this?

Even during widespread outages, the utilities encourage customers to call, because the power might be out on only one side of the street. But call only once. Repeated calls do not result in faster restoration of your power, utility officials say.

Here are the numbers:

• Progress Energy Florida: toll-free 1-800-228-8485.

•Tampa Electric: (813) 223-0800 in Hillsborough; toll-free 1-888-223-0800, in other counties.

• Withlacoochee Electric Cooperative: (352) 567-5133.

• Sumter Electric Cooperative: toll-free 1-800-732-6141.

• Peace River Electric Cooperative: toll-free 1-877-282-3656.

• Florida Power & Light: toll-free 1-800-468-8243.

Also, Progress Energy has online and mobile options for reporting outages. Progress Energy encourages customers interested in using mobile devices or computers to report outages to register in advance of storm season. Customers will need their account number, located on their bill, to register. Go to progress-energy.com/storm for information.

How else can I protect myself from electrocution?

If your home is at risk of flooding, shut off power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box BEFORE water enters your home. Never replace a fuse or touch a circuit breaker with wet hands or while standing on a wet or damp surface.

Follow these guidelines when storms knock out power 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 5:30am]

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