Prepare for Hurricane Gustav

Here We Go Again New Orleans!

The Gulf coast is preparing for another major hurricane, Hurricane Gustav. The potential path appears to be anywhere from Texas to Florida. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is already warning of possible evacuations in his area. On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the city is once again preparing for another possible major hurricane.

Being prepared for the electrical power outages should already be your minds if you live in this area. Now is the time to get prepared for the hurricane that could hit the US by early next week. These simple readiness tips will keep you ahead of the storm.

Battery-powered devices:

  1. Charge your cell phones and have them ready to use.
  2. Get all of your flashlights loaded with new batteries.
  3. Get an all-weather radio that runs on both AC power and batteries.

Accident Ready Kits:

  1. Have a first aid kit ready for accidents and burns. Electricity and water don’t mix, so be prepared for this type of treatment.
  2. Have plenty of canned food and bottled water on hand in the event the power is out. Refrigerated foods would probably perish.

Portable Generator Readiness:

  1. Get plenty of gas to be able to run a portable generator for a week or two if needed.
  2. Ground your generator properly to ensure electrical safety.
  3. Check and/or change the oil in the generator to be certain it can run for the duration of the storm. Have extra oil on hand.
  4. Be sure that you have a GFCI outlet connect or a GFCI protected extension cord for use in these types of storms.
  5. Have an outbuilding or well ventilated garage to place the generator in order to feed power to your home. Carbon dioxide gas emits from generator motors and this can kill!
  6. Connect portable generators to your home’s electrical panel only through a transfer switch. Never connect it directly to the panel! If you do, electricity can back-feed through the power lines and injure or kill someone down the road.
  7. Do not overload your generator. You can test it by adding the most needed circuits and add a circuit at a time. If the motor starts to bog down, you’ll know that the generator is straining to keep up. You can also use an amp probe to check the load on a drop cord.
  8. Keep the generator elevated to keep it dry in the event that heavy rains cause flooding. Have a way to reach the generator if flood waters threaten.
  9. Get a licensed electrician to install generator connections and transfer switches. When the storm hits, it’ll be too late!

Extension Cord Guidelines:

  1. Use only extension cords that are rated for the proper load rating to avoid overloading and electrical fires.
  2. Extension cords must have three-pronged plugs. Never cut the round ground prong off of the cord.
  3. Discard all extension cords that are frayed, have worn insulation, or have burnt or loose plugs.
  4. Have extension cord splitters in place so that you can plug cell phone chargers and the like in with ease.
  5. Run a drop cord across the ceiling of your basement to the sump pump. Keep the connection as high as possible to avoid any potential flood water.

Backup Lighting:

  1. Generators can provide power for lighting, but have battery backup lighting installed just in case.
  2. Think about using an extra car battery that can connect to a 12-volt light bulb. Charge these batteries and have them ready!
  3. Buying AC/DC flashlights can be very useful. When the power is on, the batteries are being charged by the AC outlet. When the power goes off, an LED on the flashlight shines so that you can find it with ease.

Refrigerator and Freezer Readiness:

  1. Try to plan to use perishable foods by the time the storm hits. If the power goes out, chances are that your generator may not be able to handle the power demand that both the refrigerator and freezer will demand. You can place things like gallons of milk, meat and such in the freezer to possibly save them. If the power does go out, avoid getting into the freezer if at all possible.
  2. Plug only one major appliance into the generator at a time and see if the generator can handle the load. If so, you may be able to continue using the appliances throughout the stormy weather.

Wells and Water Supplies:

  1. Fill bathtubs and sinks in anticipation of power outages. With the power out, you’ll have no well and likely no city water at some point.
  2. Fill five gallon buckets to flush toilets. Use this sparingly, it may be a long haul!

During the Storm:

Electrical Appliances and Electronics:

  1. Turn off energy hoarding electric water heaters and electric stoves. You may have to take a cold bath and cook on the grill.
  2. Turn furnaces and air conditioning units off. These too will draw a lot of power that really isn’t a necessity.
  3. Unplug electronic devices in your home. Lightning strikes and power surges can damage these items.
  4. Remove appliances from flood-prone areas like basements and garages.

After the Hurricane is Over:

Downed Power Lines:

After a hurricane is over, be cautious of downed power lines. Don’t go anywhere near them if you see them laying in your yard. Use your cell phone to call the utility company and let the professionals handle it. These downed lines are especially dangerous when the ground is wet. Remember that water is an excellent conductor and the human body is too. Safety first! Whatever you do, remember that. The life you save, may be your own!