Central Florida was hit with a series of major power outages over the weekend, and residents of Brevard County dealt with two outages of their own early Monday morning. The outages resulted in 3,700 customers in Melbourne losing power in their homes.
While these two outages were resolved quickly on Monday morning, severe long-term power outages can be dangerous, especially for those most vulnerable to our hot summer conditions.
Here are five things Melbourne residents should never do in a power outage.
Never Run a Generator in Your Home
Keeping a generator on hand in the case of a power outage is a great example of forward thinking, but those who use generators incorrectly can put their family’s lives at risk. Never use a portable generator indoors, because the engine exhaust will create rapid carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
Carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, is deadly and can quickly incapacitate and kill. Always use your generator outdoors and be sure to install a battery-operated CO alarm in your home, as carbon monoxide could come indoors through windows, doors, and vents, even if you are using the generator outside. If you begin to feel weak or dizzy while the generator is running, leave and get to fresh air immediately.
Don’t Light Candles
Although many families keep candles on hand in case of a power outage, it’s better to rely on battery-powered lights such as flashlights. Candles left unattended can pose a serious fire risk especially if they are left to burn after you go to bed or leave the room, according to the Red Cross.
Be sure to have a few battery-operated flashlights on hand instead to help navigate your home in the dark.
Don’t Drive Around Unnecessarily
During severe power outages, traffic lights will be out, which poses a risk of road congestion and car accidents. Only leave the house for special circumstances and emergencies, such as evacuating to safety.
Be sure to leave as much gasoline in your car as possible, in case you do need to leave for an emergency. If you must drive, stop at all intersections, even if you have the right-of-way, to ensure there is no oncoming traffic.
Do Not Eat Unsafe Food
It can be difficult to tell if your food has become spoiled after a power outage. Those who buy food in bulk may be reluctant to throw food away, especially if the food looks or smells fine. When in doubt, throw it out.
Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, even if it appears unspoiled. If unsure, take the food’s temperature with a food thermometer. These warm conditions can foster an environment for bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses, making the food unsafe, according to the Red Cross.
Don’t Forget People with Special Needs
While power outages in the summer are an inconvenience for the young and healthy, they can be deadly for families vulnerable to heat and power interruptions, such as those with infants and seniors or people with illnesses or disabilities. Along with posing a heat stroke risk, power outages can cause medical equipment interruptions, and any medications that need to be refrigerated could spoil.
Most families are recommended to wait out a power outage in their home, but families with special needs are advised to seek shelter with a nearby loved one who is unaffected by power outages. Also, be sure to check on any neighbors with special needs during a power outage to make sure they are safe.
While the exact cause of this week’s outages is unknown, power outages in Melbourne are often caused by severe weather and natural disasters, such as storm systems and hurricanes. If your home was damaged during an outage-causing storm and you are in a dispute with your insurance company, our insurance attorneys can help. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.