When thunder roars, go indoors!
With temperatures rising during the summer months, so does the chance for severe weather. During the spring, thunderstorms become more frequent across the country before peaking in the summer months, especially in the southern states. With those loud claps of thunder come the vivid, but dangerous, displays of lightning. Gulf Power wants its customers to be aware of the dangers associated with these sometimes dangerous and potentially deadly storms.
According to the National Weather Service, there are approximately 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the United States each year. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks Florida the first-highest state in terms of density of lightning strikes per square mile, causing 463 deaths from 1959-2011, the most of any state.
The best defense during storms is to stay indoors. If you hear thunder, immediately move indoors. However, if you are caught outdoors, the most important thing to do is to seek shelter in a sturdy place, such as a building or a car. You will be safe if you are inside the car and not in contact with the metal outside.
Do not seek shelter under a tree or near tall objects. Lightning will search for the tallest point in an area to strike, and if you are in that area you will be in danger. With that in mind, you don’t want to be the tallest point in an area, so do not go to an open field or park. Finally, do not go near any bodies of water, such as a pond, lake, swimming pool or open body of water such as the beach.
Once a storm passes that causes damages, Gulf Power offers the following safety tips:
- Never touch any downed wire or low hanging wires.
- Never pull tree limbs off power, telephone or cable lines or attempt to repair electrical equipment damaged in a storm.
- Stay clear from downed power lines and not to drive over them. Always assume a downed power line is “live” and life-threatening. If you see a downed line, notify Gulf Power at 1.800.487.6937 or call 911 and warn others to stay away.
- Never go near chain link fences – downed power lines or lightning strikes may energize the entire length of the fence.
- Avoid walking through flooded areas or puddles as they may be energized by downed power lines.
- Never walk into areas where crews are at work. If driving near work crews, obey road signs and proceed cautiously. Florida’s “Move Over” law requires motorists to move or yield right-of-way to emergency, utility, tow trucks and sanitation vehicles. If you can’t move over, motorists should slow down to 20 miles less than the posted speed limit.
Following severe weather, Gulf Power crews enter the field as soon as it’s safe to work. If an outage does occur, Gulf Power’s Outage & Storm Center at www.gulfpowernews.com/storm-ready-center is the place for the latest information to be prepared and safe. From the website, customers can access Gulf Power’s Outage Map for estimated restorations times and sign up for Outage Alerts via text message, phone call, or email.
In addition to personal safety, customers should consider adding protection for their home. Lightning strikes lead to costly insurance claims and are a common cause of power surges, sending a damaging spike of electrical voltage through the meter.
Today’s appliances and electronics are more sophisticated than ever — they are also in more need of protection from power surges that can cause permanent damage.
Gulf Power gives customers peace of mind by offering Basic PLUS surge protection to help prevent power surges that can cause costly repairs or replacement of major appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, heat pump or washer and dryers. With Basic Plus, a state-of-the-art surge protection device is installed directly to the electric meter, and is the easiest way to add protection for valuable home appliances for just $5.99 per month. To learn more, visit GulfPower.com/surge or call 844.672.9105.