Floridians urged to prepare for power outages this hurricane season

Tips for preparing for life without electricity as hurricane season heats up

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As you read this, chances are that you’re using a device that’s powered or charged by electricity. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare now for living without things many of us take for granted, like Wi-Fi and cell service, before a hurricane blows through and knocks out these connections, sometimes for days or weeks.

When Hurricane Irma slammed the state in 2017, for instance, it left more than 6.5 million Floridians without power, according the the National Weather Service. But an expert at the University of Florida said there are ways to prepare technologically for an outage.

“For most people experiencing power loss, the core priorities are likely having a sufficient supply of daily medications and the capacity to cook and keep food cold. Information and communications technologies and emergency lighting are probably second only to food preservation and preparation,” said Hal Knowles, associate change agent in the Program for Resource Efficient Communities, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As you prepare a storm and the possibility of losing electricity, it’s best to have a plan and restock your kit. Below are some tips from experts at the University of Florida on various items you may use during an outage.

  • Backup generators

If the power goes out, a backup generator can provide enough electricity to power various appliances and devices in your home.

There are two kinds of generators: internal combustion and solar. Internal combustion generators use fuel, such as gas or diesel, to generate electricity, while solar generators convert sunlight into electricity that's stored for use later.

If you use an internal combustion generator it's vital to know how to use it safely. Never use a generator inside or in a partially enclosed space because it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said you should only use them outside, more than 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents to be safe.

  • Food and cooking supplies

Have a portable cooler and ice on hand for refrigerated or frozen food because it won't stay preserved if your power is out for several days.  Also consider a heating device like an outdoor grill to cook perishables after the power is out. You should also have at least three days' worth of nonperishable food and drinking water for everyone in your home.

  • Radios

Walkie-talkies, two-way radios and short wave "han" radios can keep you connected to family and friends when internet and cell services are down.  Many two-way radios will also let you tune into the NOAA All Hazards Weather broadcasts to keep you up to date on emergency advisories.

  • Portable lighting

When the lights go out, battery-powered flashlights, headlamps and lanterns will help you navigate your home during the nighttime hours.

  • Batteries

It's always a good idea to have extra batteries for devices such as radios and flashlights since it could take days for power to be restored after a storm. Portable power banks can help to power devices charged via USB ports as long as you power them up before an outage.

  • Surge protection

When the power is restored, sometimes the surge from the initial charge can damage some electronics. Using  surge protectors or just unplugging all nonessential electrical devices can help to protect them from surge damage.

Get more tips on preparing for power outages HERE.