Hurricane Irma battered South Florida Sunday, knocking out power for millions of people. The storm weakened early Monday to a tropical storm, but residents must now focus on recovery efforts.
Florida Power and Light Company, which serves 10 million people in Florida, offered tips for staying safe after a storm.
- Stay away from downed lines or debris-laden areas where downed lines may be concealed. "FPL also encourages affected residents to report downed lines to the company or 911."
- If your power goes out, "turn off and disconnect electronic equipment such as computers, TVs, stereos, microwave ovens, and other appliances to prevent possible damage. Leave a single lamp or radio turned on to alert you if power has been restored."
- Visit FPL.com/storm from your computer or smart phone to report and check the status of an outage. Or call 1-800-4OUTAGE. You can also stay tuned to local radio, TV and newspapers for the latest information and estimated restoration times.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to help food keep longer. "Check food for spoilage; if in doubt, throw it out."
- Remove debris away from utility poles and from under power lines to help clear the way for them to restore power – as long as it is safe to do so. Photograph or videotape your home – inside and outside; take inventory to determine and record losses.
- When power is restored, turn on appliances one at a time.
- If your neighborhood gets its power restored, but you’re still without power "check all circuit breakers and fuses to help determine if they are the issue."
- Visually inspect the area near the meter - "if the meter or any of the piping or wires on the wall of the building are gone or look damaged, call an electrician."
The Red Cross also offers these additional safety tips for cleaning and repairing your home after a storm:
- Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
- Learn more about how to clean up after a hurricane, including the supplies you’ll need, how to deal with contaminated food and water, and how to repair water damage.
- Don’t just repair your home from the current storm, also build in hurricane-resistant features to help protect against future events.
- Secure double entry doors at the top and bottom.
- Strengthen garage doors to improve wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
- Select trees that are not as subject to uprooting to replace any damaged ones. A gardening or landscaping professional can give you excellent advice.
- If your home has been significantly damaged and will require rebuilding parts or all of it, consider building a safe room.