TAMPA (FOX 13) - Hurricane Irma’s winds, while not as strong as feared, caused widespread power outages across Florida. Officials had warned ahead of the storm that millions could lose power around the state, and that restoration could take days or weeks. It also means residents should avoid potential hazards.
DOWNED POWER LINES:
Officials warn residents to be aware of downed power lines around the Bay Area following the storm. Tampa Electric offered the following advice:
- Assume all wires are power lines and assume they are energized.
- Always assume that a downed power line is energized, and move away to safety.
- While some energized wires spark and snap, others may not appear dangerous.
- Standing water can hide energized power lines or other hazards, or put you at risk of drowning.
Power outages also mean you can come across a traffic light that is out. In this case, you will need to treat that intersection as a four-way stop, where the first driver to approach the intersection has the right of way. When two cars reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.
As you wait for power to return, and you decide to use a generator, local emergency officials want to warn you about potential hazards. Emergency officials from Clearwater and Lakeland provide the following safety tips:
- Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
- Keep it away from openings, like windows, vents and doors, that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away and dial 9-1-1. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a flushed face, difficulty breathing, a rapid pulse and even headaches. If you experience these symptoms seek fresh air immediately and call 9-1-1.
- Don't run a portable generator in the rain.
- Before refueling, turn off a gasoline-powered generator and let it cool.
- Stock up on extra gasoline and store it properly.
- Avoid electrical hazards. If you must use an extension cord, it should be a heavy-duty one for outdoor use.
St. Pete Police said they've become aware of people purchasing dryer electric cords to plug their generators into main electric panels. However, they warn it can energize the lines back to the main transformers and downed power lines and electrocute power workers. If power workers test the lines before working on them, it will destroy the home generator.
Irma is gone, but power outages remain. Here’s the latest breakdown of across the Bay Area.
Tampa Electric (TECO)
Customers without power: 91.867
LINK: TECO outage map
Customers without power: 569,853
LINK: Duke outage map
Florida Power & Light
Customers without power: 1,414,940
LINK: FPL outage map
Customers without power: 46,247
LINK: Lakeland Electric outage map
PHONE: (863) 834-4248
Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative
Customers without power: 20,000+
LINK: WREC outage map
Peace River Electric Co-op
Customers without power: 8,449
LINK: PREC outage map