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Preparation and Readiness Important When Facing a Hurricane.

As summer approaches so, too, does the threat of hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Forecasters predict 14 named storms for this year, including three major hurricanes and four other less severe hurricanes.

As a major energy provider to the Gulf Coast area, Direct Energy wants to ensure that its customers are prepared for severe weather. Here are some useful tips to help prepare for a hurricane, and how to avoid electric issues during the aftermath:

Before a Hurricane:

  • Know if you live in an evacuation area. Identify your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Have a written plan based on this knowledge.
  • Check your supplies, replace batteries and replenish food supplies on a rotating basis.
  • Develop a family hurricane plan by identifying a safe room, an escape route, an out-of-state family contact and a plan for your pets.
  • Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit.
  • Take first aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
  • Adjust refrigerator temperatures to coldest settings to reduce the potential for food to spoil if the power is temporarily lost.
  • Have a battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries in a water tight container.

During a Hurricane:

  • Heed the advice of local authorities. Evacuate if ordered.
  • If power is lost, turn off all major appliances to reduce the chances of damage if a power surge occurs when electricity is restored.
  • If an evacuation is necessary, unplug all appliances before leaving your home.
  • Do not take a bath or shower and avoid water faucets, which can conduct electricity.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment and do not use the telephone except for an emergency.

After a Hurricane:

  • When power is restored to your home, do not start all major appliances at once; turn them on gradually to reduce damage to sensitive equipment.
  • Avoid downed, damaged or loose power lines and report them immediately to the local police and fire department as well as to the local transmission and distribution services provider in your area.
  • Never use a generator indoors, including garages, basements, and crawlspaces, even with ventilation. Exhaust fumes contain high levels of carbon monoxide which can be deadly if inhaled.
  • Plug individual appliances into heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cords and plug the cords into the generator. Check that the extension cords have a wire gauge adequate for the appliance loads. Make sure that each cord is free of cuts or tears and its plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
  • Do not use electrical or gas appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on damaged appliances because of the hazards of electric shock or fire.
  • Never use charcoal indoors because burning charcoal produces high levels of carbon monoxide that can reach lethal levels in enclosed spaces.
  • Exercise caution when using candles. Use flashlights instead, if possible.
  • Do not drive through standing water if downed power lines are in the water.
  • If a power line falls across your car while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line.
  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, call an electrician to turn it off.

Hurricanes are unfortunately unavoidable, but with a few safety precautions many of the dangers these storms present can be prevented. Being prepared and staying informed before, during and after the storm can make a difference between minor damages and major losses. These are just a few hurricane preparedness tips that you may want to consider. Other hurricane preparedness tips can be found at the National Hurricane Preparedness week Web site.

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