Though Hurricane Hermine has taken its time organizing and even being named, it now brings heavy wind and rain to large parts of Florida. Fortunately, TECO team members make being organized a top priority when it comes to severe weather preparedness – and above all, we stake our company name on putting safety and health first.
No matter what the storm brings, we’re ready – in fact TECO prepares for hurricane season all year round. With Hermine projected to directly impact areas north of Tampa Electric’s service area, communities we serve with electricity are still seeing significant levels of rain. TECO Peoples Gas customers are more likely to feel the brunt of the storm’s force. Our crews and contractors are fully prepared and on alert to repair any damage caused by wind or flooding.
When severe weather arrives, we work around the clock to restore as many people as possible as quickly as we can. With advanced equipment, including the new gas control facility at Peoples Gas as well as alternative sites where we can monitor the natural gas system, we have high-quality tools to complement our team members’ dedication to safety and service. And with this checklist and the guidance below, we work to empower you to be ready too.
- Stay away from downed power lines and avoid floodwaters. Always assume that a downed power line is energized, and move away to safety. Floodwaters can hide energized power lines or other hazards, or put you at risk of drowning.
- Caution: Use portable generators safely. DO NOT connect your portable generator to your home’s circuits. Plug your appliances directly into the generator. Connecting your generator to your home’s circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, posing life-threatening danger to power restoration crews. Also, NEVER operate portable generators inside or near air conditioning ducts or in any enclosed space (including a closed garage) where deadly carbon monoxide gases could build up.
- If you’re a Tampa Electric customer, update your primary phone number at tampaelectric.com. Our automated power outage system, which you can access at 1-877-588-1010, identifies an outage at your residence or business by recognizing your phone number or Tampa Electric account number and matching it to the address we have on record for that number. Your primary number is the phone number most frequently associated with your home or business service address. It must be updated with us for the system to benefit you.
If you’re a Peoples Gas customer, here are a few precautions to take to ensure your safety with natural gas appliances during a storm:
- If you evacuate your home or business, DO NOT turn off your gas supply at the main meter. Only emergency or utility personnel should turn the valve on or off.
- You CAN turn off the gas for individual appliances at the appliance valve near each unit, if you choose to do so. Most codes now require an appliance valve within six feet of each appliance.
- During and after severe storms, Peoples Gas crews are available to respond to natural gas emergencies.
Customers can contact a qualified gas appliance dealer if they experience difficulty relighting the pilot lights on appliances after a valve shut off. Peoples Gas can provide a list of qualified dealers to help. Call toll free 1-877 TECO PGS (1-877-832-6747).
- Help for special needs customers. Counties provide shelter programs for those requiring special medical care. Special needs shelters are available for people requiring more skilled medical care than is available in a public shelter but not requiring an acute care facility, such as a hospital. To register for this kind of shelter care, please contact the special needs registry in your area. Visit the Florida Special Needs Registry website.
- Medical Watch: Check into this helpful program if you’re a Tampa Electric customer who has been certified by your Florida-licensed physician as dependent upon electricity-powered life support equipment.
- Determine your flood zone. Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Map Service Center online to see if you live in an area expected to experience heavy flooding in the event of severe weather.
- Find us online: Use Tampa Electric’s outage map for information about power outages – including locations, the number of people affected and estimated restoration time frames – and sign up for Power Updates to receive texts, emails, and/or phone calls regarding your service and other important information. In addition, find updates for Tampa Electric on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and for Peoples Gas on Facebook and Twitter as well.
With your commitment to preparing your home and our commitment to safety and health and reliable service, we’ll all be better able to handle Hermine and other storms. Together, let’s meet the uncertainties of severe weather with the confidence in knowing we’ve taken all the right steps to be ready.