As hurricane season begins, are you prepared?

Hurricane Season, community

ST. PETERSBURG – The majority of Duke Energy Florida’s customers are not prepared for hurricane season, a recent Duke Energy survey found.

Seven out of 10 don’t have hurricane supplies, or haven’t put together a preparation kit in at least two years.

Nearly 60 percent don’t have an emergency evacuation plan.

As an award-winning leader in storm preparedness and restoration, Duke Energy maintains its own plan and is ready to respond – and wants its customers to be prepared also.

The company has held simulated hurricane drills and participated in Florida’s state hurricane exercise to sharpen response and restoration times during the past year.

Duke Energy also has held storm preparation sessions and downed power-line demonstrations for emergency first-responders across its Florida service territory.

The company has spent more than $640 million over the last four years maintaining and strengthening its Florida power delivery system, including inspecting and replacing power poles and trimming vegetation and trees.

“Duke Energy is prepared to respond in the event that a major storm damages the electric system,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We know our customers rely on us to restore service quickly after storms, and keep them informed.”

“But the majority of our customers aren’t personally prepared to respond quickly in the event of a major storm. That’s why we’re asking them to prepare for ‘when’ – not ‘if’ – a storm strikes,” Glenn said.

Hurricane malaise or apathy might be the reason for the lack of preparedness.

When asked about the likelihood of a storm threatening Florida in the next three years, 46 percent of Duke Energy Florida’s residential customers surveyed, and 69 percent of its small business customers, said it’s unlikely.

It’s been nine years since a major tropical storm or hurricane hit Florida.

While the official forecast indicates a lower risk of storms again this season (June 1 – Nov. 30), a single storm could devastate a given area.

Duke Energy encourages customers to:

• Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes.

• Maintain a supply of water and non-perishable food.

• Ensure first-aid supplies and medicines are readily available. If electricity is needed to operate medical equipment, contact Duke Energy (800-700-8744) in advance of a storm to learn what to do in the event of a power outage or emergency.

• Review insurance policies, and include extra copies of the policies and other important documents in the emergency supply kit (ideally in a waterproof container).

• Keep flashlights on hand, ensure they’re operational, and maintain a supply of extra batteries.

• Keep a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and official information.

• Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternate location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required. Pet owners can make arrangements to stay at evacuation shelters that accept pets, friends’ or family members’ homes, or pet-friendly hotels.

• Draw an emergency water supply in advance if one’s home or apartment depends on well water, in case well-water pumps become inoperable due to a power outage.

• Use backup electric generators safely, and follow manufacturers’ directions.

• Unplug major non-essential appliances. Advanced surge protection systems will protect homes from most power surges, but will not prevent damage from direct lightning strikes.

For a “Hurricane Kit Checklist,” important safety tips and more information on what to do before, during and after a storm, visitwww.duke-energy.com/storm, then click “Outage & Storm Information” under Duke Energy Florida.For more tips on general emergency preparedness, visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management atwww.floridadisaster.org.

For storm or power restoration updates in the event of a hurricane, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy).

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