ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- With Florida in the path of Hurricane Isaias, Duke Energy Florida is preparing for potential outages and is encouraging customers to do the same.
Hurricane Isaias is forecast to reach the Southeast coast of Florida on Saturday, bringing strong winds, heavy rainfall and the potential for flooding. Duke Energy customers in central and eastern Florida may experience weather-related outages.
"We understand now more than ever that our customers are depending upon us to provide safe and reliable power," said Jason Cutliffe, Duke Energy's storm director for Florida. "With COVID-19, customers are spending more time at home and even brief outages can be concerning. Our team is ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible to minimize the effects to our customers. We'll also adjust our plans in the event the path of the storm shifts or changes."
During non-pandemic times, restoring power after a storm can be difficult for utility repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be affected by high winds and widespread flooding. In addition to these concerns, Duke Energy's detailed storm response plan has incorporated CDC recommendations for COVID compliance and social distancing measures to help keep our customers and communities safe.
Crews are wearing face coverings when the job allows and have modified work practices to reduce interactions. Customers are asked to remain outside of marked work zones and refrain from approaching crews working to restore outages during storms.
Outage alerts and reporting power outages
Before the storm hits, customers can sign up to receive outage alerts and should make sure their contact information is up to date and select their communication preferences.
Customers who experience a power outage can report it the following ways:
Use the Duke Energy mobile app – download the Duke Energy App from a smartphone via Apple Store or Google Play.
Text OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).
Call the automated outage-reporting system for Duke Energy Florida: 800.228.8485
Important safety tips and reminders
Duke Energy encourages customers to have a plan in place if they experience a power outage. Below are tips to help you and your family stay safe.
Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines, water, non-perishable foods and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes. Your emergency kit should also include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and face coverings aligned with CDC guidance.
Keep a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.
Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of storms to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.
Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required. When checking on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it's critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.
Power restoration process
Duke Energy focuses on restoring power in a sequence that enables power restoration to public health and safety facilities and to the greatest number of customers as safely and quickly as possible. Click here for information on how Duke Energy restores power.
High-water safety reminders
People who live along lakes and rivers, and in other low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding, should pay close attention to local emergency management officials, national weather service and media for changing weather conditions and rising lake and river levels.
High water conditions can create navigational hazards, and the public should use caution and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials before going on area lakes or rivers.
Members of the public who have electrical service to facilities (piers, outside lighting on seawalls, etc.) on or near water should have this service de-energized to avoid injuries and equipment damage.
If rising water threatens your home — or if you evacuate your home — turn off your power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Don't drive over — and don't stand near — downed power lines.
Downed lines will be hard to see in the rain and can potentially be hidden in standing water. If you encounter large pools of standing water, stop, back up and choose another path.
If your home or business is flooded, Duke Energy cannot reconnect power until the electrical system has been inspected by a licensed electrician. If there is damage, an electrician will need to make repairs and obtain verification from your local building inspection authority before power can be restored.
Tips to protect refrigerated food during a power outage
For customers who lose power and have full refrigerators and freezers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. If the power will be out for more than four hours, use coolers to keep refrigerated food cold.
A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.
Duke Energy is transforming its customers' experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit's regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2020 "World's Most Admired Companies" list, and Forbes' 2019 "America's Best Employers" list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy's illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter,LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.