News of a fatal hit-and-run accident involving lineworkers has saddened the community. Even though the crews were not part of Gulf Power’s group of lineworkers, the news was a tragic reminder of the dangers of working along the roadside.

Gulf Power crews restoring power on MLK Blvd. in Panama City, Florida
Gulf Power crews restoring power on MLK Blvd. in Panama City, Florida

“Nothing matters more than the safety of our customers and our storm crews, and after a storm of this magnitude, all of us must remain vigilant,” said Adrianne Collins, Gulf Power’s vice president of Power Delivery. “Risk from oncoming traffic is one of the biggest dangers our lineworkers face, and our community can assist with the protection of all our restoration team members by observing the Move Over law.”

Move Over law – The Move Over law provides safety buffers for those working or assisting others along Florida’s roadways including law enforcement, emergency responders, utility and sanitation workers and other public servants.

  • The law requires motorists to move over a lane when passing.
  • If they cannot move over, then they should slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If drivers violate the Move Over law, they could be issued a ticket, which could result in a fine as well as three points on their driver’s license.

Increasing danger from distracted drivers who fail to give first responders and their occupants the proper buffer to conduct their jobs safely when out on the state’s roadways is a risk that Gulf Power crews, as well as emergency vehicle drivers and law enforcement, face on a daily basis. This risk is only heightened with the additional distractions that come with an area that has been so greatly impacted by a storm as destructive as Hurricane Michael.

Gulf Power crews working on power lines damaged by Hurricane Michael
Gulf Power crews working on power lines damaged by Hurricane Michael

Yesterday, Gulf Power announced power had been restored to more than 95 percent of all customers who were able to safely take power in Bay County. And work will continue for several weeks for Gulf Power crews plus hundreds of out-of-town line crews, tree trimmers and storm team members. The restoration team is now focused on customer reconnects, electrical equipment cleanup and repairing the system to pre-storm condition and reliability.

 

While driving on Florida’s roadways, AAA recommends the following driving tips

  • Watch for emergency vehicles, tow vehicles, sanitation and utility service vehicles on the side of the road.
  • If an emergency vehicle with lights flashing is parked on the side of a two-lane road, you MUST slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach with caution, unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene.
  • Slow down when you see the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle on the road, and — if you can — move over into an adjacent lane. If you cannot change lanes, reduce your speed to 20 mph below the speed limit.
  • Pay attention to changes in traffic patterns and speed limits, and look out for motorists stranded on the side of the road waiting for assistance.

 


 

Safety is critical

With debris lining many roads in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael, safety must continue to be a focus for all workers, citizens and visitors to these areas.

  1. Slow down – Move Over ­– Florida has a Move Over law that applies to all law enforcement, emergency/first responders and utility workers.
  2. Stay away from downed powerlines – Gulf Power is committed to continuing the restoration for the less-than-five percent of customers remaining who can safely take power and for customers who will need to repair their homes, businesses and electrical equipment in order to receive power safely. Once customers are able to make necessary repairs, which should be handled by a licensed electrician, they may call Gulf Power at 1-800-225-5797 to schedule their reconnect.
  3. Keep area near and around power poles clear of debris – As customers clean up from the storm, it is important to keep all debris at least 10 feet away from all electrical equipment, such as power wires and poles or the green padmount box on the ground (pictured here). It is especially important not to place debris on top of the green padmount box. This can make it difficult for lineworkers to perform connection work and can present a danger during debris removal.

 


 

Preparing for power

Gulf Power wants to ensure customers know what they can do now to ensure they can be safely connected at the earliest opportunity when power is restored to their area.

  • Know what you need to repair – Homeowners and businesses are responsible for electrical equipment attached to the house (service stack, attachment hardware, riser and meter box). Gulf Power is responsible for the wire or service line to the house and the electric meter. If the homeowner’s equipment is damaged, repairs will be needed before Gulf Power can connect service. See this graphic for more information.
  • Keep area near and around power poles clear of debris – As customers clean up from the storm, it is important to keep all debris at least 10 feet away from all electrical equipment, such as power wires and poles or the green padmount box on the ground (pictured here). It is especially important not to place debris on top of the green padmount box. This can make it difficult for lineworkers to perform connection work and can present a danger during debris removal.
  • Transfer/Reconnects – For customers that need to transfer their service due to Hurricane Michael, visit MyGulfPower.com or call 1-800-225-5797. The Account Establishment Charge will be waived for residential customers relocating within Gulf Power’s service area due to Hurricane Michael. The AEC will also be waived when the customer reconnects service at the original premise location, following repairs or rebuilding. This does not apply to temporary service poles.
  • Disconnects – For customers who will no longer be able to safely take power due to severe damage from Hurricane Michael, visit MyGulfPower.com or call 1-800-225-5797 to disconnect your home.

 


 

Other safety tips

  • Treat any downed wire as if it is energized because you can’t tell by looking if a downed wire is live or not. Telephone or cable television wires that are touching a power line could become energized and should also be avoided. For dangerous conditions, including downed power lines, please call 911 or 1-800-487-6937.
  • Standing water (puddles from flooding) may be energized from a downed line. Be careful not to touch or step in water near where a downed power line is located. If a downed line is near water — even a small puddle — keep well away.
  • Don’t attempt to repair the electrical system or pull tree limbs off lines. Let our trained work crews perform this potentially dangerous work.
  • Stay clear of areas where there is a lot of debris or downed trees because it could conceal an energized power line. Also stay clear of chain link fences which may be energized if touching a downed line.
  • If you have an electric generator, please ensure that you have isolated your home or business from the utility electrical service lines by opening main breakers or other devices. Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to our employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances – such as freezers and refrigerators — directly to the generator.
  • If your power is off, turn off large appliances and air conditioners and wait 10 to 15 minutes after power has been restored before turning them back on.
  • If there is damage to your meter box or the pole on top of your meter box, you must first have an electrician make repairs before we can restore your service.
  • Stay away from areas where our crews are working. If driving, follow road signs, drive cautiously and follow directions in the area of a work crew.
  • Please be patient. Our crews will work as fast as safety allows. Before neighborhood lines can be worked on, our crews must first repair larger lines that bring power to neighborhoods.
  • See more preparation and safety tips here.

 


 

Stay connected with Gulf Power

  • To get the latest updates on outages, customers can download Gulf Power’s app and access the outage map for the latest restoration information. The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. Just search for “Gulf Power” in iTunes or the Google Play Store.
  • Visit MyGulfPower.com and click on the outage map for restoration updates.
  • Customers can follow Gulf Power updates on FacebookTwitter or Instagram#RebuildingTogether #RestoringHope #PowerofTeamwork
  • Gulf Power knows when your power is out. However, you can call 1-800-487-6937 if you have any questions about your outage.