By South Florida Times
Having experience with the impact that a major storm can have on businesses, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) provides key guidelines to help businesses prepare to weather storms and get back to business as safely and quickly as possible.
• Ensure your employees’ contact information is up to date.
• Have a plan in place to communicate after the storm passes, e.g. set up a telephone number with a recorded message that will be regularly updated to inform employees of the status of company operations.
• Consider developing a system to authorize re-entry to company facilities after a storm, e.g. I.D. cards and vehicle permits.
• Establish a safe area away from exterior glass windows and doors if you plan to take shelter at your business.
• Determine if your business is in a flood and/or evacuation zone and review evacuation routes, designating an emergency temporary site.
• Identify what you need to secure your building, important equipment and who will help; outline specific tasks and conduct a training session.
• Photograph or record your building or office – inside and out – for insurance purposes.
• DO NOT attempt to trim any vegetation growing on or near any overhead power lines. Only hire qualified professionals to trim trees and other vegetation near power lines.
• Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement – trash pickup will be suspended during this time. Trees and other vegetation are among the leading causes of power outages and can become airborne during a storm.
• Bookmark FPL.com/outage and save 1-800-4OUTAGE to your cell phone to report and check the status of your restoration.
• Download the FPL Mobile App in the App Store or Google Play, or text the word “App” to MyFPL (69375). • Save your FPL account number to the notes section of your cell phone, or keep a copy of your FPL bill – which has your account number on it.
• Update the phone number and email address on your FPL account.
• Consider installing a generator in case of power outages. Generator safety
• Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
• DO NOT directly connect your generator to your business’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a business’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
• DO NOT run generators inside your business or garage, as they produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
• Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent the fumes from entering your business.
• Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
• Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
• Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
• DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
• NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
• Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.
Before a storm:
• Pay attention to instructions from public officials and the media.
• Secure the exterior of your office and protect interior furniture:
• Identify outdoor equipment, materials and structures that could become airborne and move them to a safe location.
• Park vehicles in safe, protected areas such as a covered garage.
• Secure doors, windows and other openings.
• Move items away from the windows.
• Lock drawers and filing cabinets.
• Unplug all lamps, radios, computers and equipment in case of a power surge; cover important equipment with plastic bags. • Gather any important supplies and documents.
• Charge your cell phone and keep it ready by obtaining portable chargers.
• Make multiple back-ups of computer files and data and store records off premises.
• Run a special voice message informing employees and customers on the status of company operations.
• Close your offices with sufficient time to allow employees to secure their own homes, and inform clients that you’re closing early and when you plan to reopen.
After a storm:
• Make your safety and the safety of your employees a priority.
• DO NOT travel, or ask employees to travel, until it is safe to do so.
• Call 911 immediately to report dangerous or hazardous conditions. Please use the FPL Mobile APP or call FPL at 1-800-4-OUTAGE to report downed power lines or damage to FPL lines, poles or transformers. DO NOT attempt to touch any power lines. Always assume that every power line is energized.
• Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines if you use a portable generator. Remember to NEVER wire your generator to your breaker or fuse box – the power you generate may flow.
back into power lines causing severe injury or death.
• Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off all wall switches immediately in case of interior water damage. Remember to never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.
• Stay away from standing water and debris, which could conceal a live wire.
• DO NOT venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous. • Make emergency repairs only when it is safe to do so. Repairs that prevent looting or further damage should have top priority, but only if the repair can be done safely.
• Take inventory to determine and record losses – based off the photos and recordings you took for insurance purposes.
Staying in touch with FPL following a storm When outages occur, we know our customers want and need information on when their power will be restored. FPL will provide updated restoration time estimates and other progress reports via mobile if a storm strikes:
• FPL’s Mobile App • FPL’s website: FPL.com/storm • Twitter: Twitter.com/insideFPL • Facebook: Facebook.com/FPLconnect • YouTube: YouTube.com/FPL • FPL’s blog: FPLblog.com • FPL’s outage page: FPL.com/Outage • FPL’s outage number: 1-800-4OUTAGE For more storm and safety tips visit FPL.com/storm.
This article originally appeared in the South Florida Times.