TECO hopes lessons learned after Irma prevent lengthy outages after Dorian

You saw it when Irma hit in 2017: Winds up to 140 miles an hour devastated the Gulf Coast - and its power grid.

With Dorian churning toward Florida, Tampa Electric wants people to remember what followed that devastating storm.

"Severe weather always brings with it the risk power outages," said Cherie Jacobs with TECO.

Irma crippled the state with a record-setting seven million people without power. It's why TECO is getting ready now for Dorian.

"We are preparing for severe outages as a result of this storm," said Jacobs.

And you can too. Fox 13 News caught up with area-residents at a Home Depot. One man says trimming trees away from power lines is one way to begin.

"I got them all cut, I got some oak trees and other trees, but I paid to get them all cut," said Albert Duggins.

Long-time Florida resident Marshall Stoddard says, his generator was a life-saver during Irma.

"We have a whole-house generator, and a few of the neighbors will come over if anything happens," Stoddard said.

Jacobs says, remember these two rules when using a generator: "Do not put the generator inside your home or on a porch. It needs to be away from the house so it's properly ventilated. And only use select appliances. A generator cannot support the electric load of an entire house. Just use one appliance."

The electric company has fine-tuned the way it works since Irma, especially after dealing with the hundreds of thousands without power in the Tampa Bay area.

"One of the things we learned from Irma was that we have really strong relationships with our municipalities and government officials in our territory, and it's also great to have good communication across all of those agencies to make sure everyone is up to date on the latest information," Jacobs said.

Though Dorian is still several days away, TECO has already made the necessary calls for assistance, should Tampa need more linemen.

"We're accessing our workforce needs right now, and, in fact, we're asking other linemen from other utilities to stand by, in preparation to help us," she said.

TECO is also looking to triple the number of tree-trimmers that we typically have, and increasing the number of linemen by more than tenfold.

LINK: Download our Hurricane Prep Shopping List here.

Hurricane Dorian preparations:

- Citrus County
- DeSoto County
- Hardee County
- Hernando County
- Highlands County
- Hillsborough County
- Manatee County
- Pasco County
- Pinellas County
- Polk County
- Sarasota County
- Sumter County