Born and raised in South Florida, William “Billy” Bishop has seen his fair share of hurricanes through the years. Having lived in Polk County for 25 years, now he uses his experience and expertise to help people prepare for the unexpectedness.
Helpful Hurricane Tips
1. Make sure you have a full tank of gas.
Billy comments, “For the majority of hurricanes, you’re going to be without power. Keep in mind that the whole community will be without power, including the gas station, the bank with its ATM machine, and even Home Depot.” In such an event, preparedness is key to safeguard against being stranded or without power for a generator.
2. Stock up on water and canned goods from the store.
The best defense in any hurricane is to be prepared. Buying water, canned goods (things that don’t expire), and paper products are paramount before a hurricane strikes. Having adequate food and water is important in the event the power goes out or water is unsuitable to drink. Batteries are another important purchase for portable radios.
3. Make sure your phone is charged.
Considering that most hurricanes result in a loss of power, having a full charge on your phone is important. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a car charger to charge your phone if your power goes out. It can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency.
4. Purchase a generator and a surge protector.
“Not only do you have to think about surviving the storm, but you also have to think about after the storm,” says Billy. “I want a generator and surge protector for my home. With a lot of lightning strikes, it is important to protect my electronics. A surge protector sucks up the energy (of the lightning) and diverts it from electronics. A whole-house surge protector is vital and important.”
Billy also encourages residents to purchase a generator for their home. He comments, “Generators, even if they are portable, are gasoline engines. They produce carbon monoxide just like my car. They’re very dangerous. Don’t start them in the garage. They must be 5 feet from the home, including any open windows. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas.”
Also, you must have an interlock for your generator. An interlock won’t allow the generator to be on at the same time as the main breaker of the home. Billy explains, “At some point, the power is going to come back on. The portable generator – whether it is 120 volts or 240 volts – is going to go back down the electric line. The electricity is back feeding, which will hit the lineman who is working on the line.” Injury or death can result. Another reason to have an interlock: it’s the code. Interlocks are special to every panel.
An interlock is simply a physical device, made out of sliding Teflon or metal, to make sure that one breaker is one and one is off.
5. Test out your generator.
Don’t wait until the last second to find out your generator doesn’t work. Prepare for emergencies by running your generator once a month. Test it as if you were going to have a hurricane. Turn off the breaker of the house. Take out the generator. Make sure you have the correct cord and the generator is positioned 5 feet away from the house or nearest window. Once you ensure that it works, make sure your interlock works correctly too.
How does an interlock work? Once the power comes back on, in 30 seconds a signal is sent down to the generator, which shuts it down. You will hear a “clack” noise. In 30 seconds the power will come back on.
6. Purchase enough gasoline for your generator.
Don’t be caught without gasoline for your generator, especially when gas stations often go dry. For a propane or petroleum generator, get at least a 500-gallon tank. Generators will burn 70 gallons a day. A full load can last 27 hours. Want your generator to last longer? Turn off electrical devices (lights, hot water heater, etc.) that you won’t be using.
It makes sense to plan ahead in Florida for hurricanes, which often occur in August and September. Don’t leave hurricanes to chance. Stay ahead of the storm for protection and peace of mind.