With hurricane season in full swing, Coastal Breeze is dedicated to ensuring the safety of Southwest Floridians. Coastal Breeze previously featured pertinent information from the City of Marco Island and the United States Humane Society regarding safety for both residents and their pets in times of hurricanes.
This edition features tips from LCEC and the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Knowing what to do before and after a storm helps minimize damage to properties, landscaping and persons. Read on to learn more about what to do when the lights go out and bracing your trees for impact.
Submitted by LCEC
LCEC’s preparation begins long before a hurricane threatens to make landfall in Southwest Florida. To ensure LCEC has the resources needed for restoration, the organization cultivates relationships with power line and tree-trimming contractors, fuel companies, material vendors, food service vendors, other cooperatives and local agencies for back-up resources.
In addition, LCEC’s 400+ employees play a critical role in the restoration plan. Employees put their typical job responsibilities on hold to pitch in during restoration.
LCEC has a detailed restoration plan that outlines priorities of electric restoration during large power outages. LCEC’s plan first calls for restoration of essential services such as hospitals, traffic signals, shelters, law enforcement. Next, power is restored to the largest number of customers. The last to be restored are individual services or services that need to be reconnected after repair to their home electrical system.
LCEC does not disconnect power before a storm. The utility lets Mother Nature run her course, and begins to restore power to impacted areas once winds are at a safe level.
How customers should prepare for outages
• Ensure that you have a back-up telephone if you use a cordless or other telephonethat is dependent on electricity.
• Have a battery-powered radio on hand and a supply of fresh batteries to stay aware of news and other information.
• Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy.
What to do when the lights go out
• Help keep LCEC’s telephone lines clear for emergency calls. Only call LCEC at 656-2300 to report downed power lines.
• Visually check your weather-head (on the roof where your service drop connects to the pole) and your meter box to make sure it is not damaged.
• Any damage to your home’s electric system must be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected by a designated agency before power to your home can be restored.
• Turn off your appliances. This will protect them when service is restored, prevent electrical fires and lessen the chances of circuit overload when service is restored.
• You may leave one light on to serve as a visual signal that power has been restored.
Storm Safety Tips
• Stay clear of downed power lines. They may still be energized and dangerous. Puddles of water contacting downed lines are just as dangerous.
• Don’t trim trees or remove debris located near downed power lines. If you must remove debris from your home, don’t pile it under or near electrical lines or equipment.
• Residents on life support need to have an alternate plan in place to ensure the continuity of any life-support needs. This may include making special arrangements to spend time with a friend or relative during an outage or using a back-up generator.
• If operating a portable generator, keep it outside and in an open area. Carbon monoxide emissions can be harmful. Follow all instructions regarding safe operation. Do not connect the generator directly to your main electrical panel. If installed incorrectly, power could flow into outside lines and injure you, your neighbors or utility crews working in thearea.
• Avoid detaining LCEC employees or contractors while they are working to restore power. This can be distracting, can cause an accident and impedes the process.
Submitted by The International Society of Arboriculture
With hurricane season just around the corner, you need to know if your trees will be safe from the possible wrath of Mother Nature. Thousands of Florida trees and communities are at risk for damage by heavy rains and wind that cause trees to crack, split, and even uproot, which can lead to further property damage and power outages.
You may be able to prevent further property damage during a storm, and enable your trees to recover by following a few practical suggestions from the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (FL-ISA). “Preparing your trees and your property ahead of time not only improves the health and longevity of the tree but also protects you and your property from potential damage caused by trees should they fail during a storm,” says Norm Easey, FL-ISA Executive Director.
Look for potential Hazards – Investigate the condition of your trees. Hire an ISA Certified Arborist to inspect for damage such as cracks in the trunk or major limbs; hollow, aged, and decayed trees; hanging branches; improperly formed branches; one-sided or significantly leaning trees; and branches that may potentially rub the house or fall on utility lines. Depending on the existing problem, you may be advised to either remove the tree or to prune potentially hazardous branches.
Know your tree species – Some species are more prone to storm damage. Find out the hardiness and resilience of the species on your property. Being aware of which trees may succumb to harsh weather conditions will help you decide if you want to replace these potentially dangerous species.
Do not top your trees – Untrained individuals may urge you to cut back allof the branches on the mistaken assumption that it will help avoid breakage in future storms. However, professional arborists say that “topping,” the cutting of main branches back to stubs, is extremely harmful and unhealthy for your trees. This practice often leaves weakly attached branches that are more likely to break when a storm strikes. Topping also reduces the amount of foliage, which the tree depends on for the nourishment needed for re-growth. A topped tree that sustains major storm damage is more likely to die than repair itself.
Protect your assets – Trees increase property value. Find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover any damage your landscape may sustain due to unnatural causes, and include the total value of your trees when listing your assets for coverage. An ISA Certified Arborist who has experience with appraisals can provide an estimated value by inspecting your trees. Be sure to document the value of potential loss with photos of the trees and the evaluation by the arborist.
Proper tree care prior to a major storm can help lessen the impact the storm could have on your trees. Hiring an ISA Certified Arborist who can assist you with pre-storm inspections and post-storm repairs can help avoid unnecessary loss of your trees. To learn more on preparing your trees for hurricanes or to get free tree and hurricane videos, visit the Trees 4 Florida website at www.treesarecool.com
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a professional organization dedicated to continuing education for arborists, tree care research, and serving tree care consumers around the world. The FLORIDA CHAPTER of the ISA shares this same dedication, with a further commitment to serving the needs particular to Florida’s professional arborists and tree care consumers. Contact the Florida Chapter ISA at FloridaISA@aol.com or visit www.treesarecool.com for additional public service announcements in English and Spanish.