November 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence: What you need to know to stay safe

Hurricane Florence forecasted path, courtesy of National Hurrican Center, NOAA, updated 11 a.m., Sept. 12, 2018.
STORM CODE KEY — D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH, S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH,
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH, M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH.

As Hurricane Florence approaches landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, a state of emergency has been declared for North Carolina. Federal authorities encourage all residents to follow the advice of local officials, and comply with any evacuation recommendations and mandates. Additionally, you can find the Red Cross’ hurricane preparedness tips at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane.html.

The following resources are available for statewide updates on the storm and emergency preparedness:
• NC Emergency Management: Follow NC Emergency Management on Twitter (@NCEmergency) for updates and statements from state and local officials. Get more updates by downloading the ReadyNC app, available along with more info on ReadyNC.org.
• FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is monitoring the situation and providing information resources for residents on Twitter (@FEMARegion4) and on their website, FEMA.gov. They have shared a hurricane preparedness toolkit that you can find here.
• NOAA: The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is providing regional and county-specific weather updates at Weather.gov. On NOAA’s interactive map, click on your area to find the latest forecasts and advisories. The latest briefing information on the storm can be found here.
• American Red Cross: Find hurricane safety and preparedness tips on RedCross.org or follow the group on Twitter (@RedCross) or Facebook (Red Cross). You can find a list of open emergency evacuation shelters here.
• Duke Energy: Report any power outages by calling 800-228-8485, texting OUT to 57801 or vising duke-energy.com. You can also monitor updates on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy).
• NC Electric Cooperatives: Report a power outage in your county on the cooperatives’ website, NCElectricCooperatives.gov.

Emergency shelter procedure in Alexander County

Russell Greene, Alexander County Emergency Services Director, stated Sept. 10 that if Alexandrians do not feel safe at their home in the storm, or their homes become uninhabitable, they should proceed to their local community fire department, then the fire personnel will call Emergency Services, and a determination will be made in which community to set up a storm shelter, if needed.

Schools urge parent use of multiple information sources; automated call system may not reach every family

Alexander County school officials are alerting parents to use multiple communication sources for weather-related information over the next few days.

Although the school system uses the automated call system to alert parents of school delays, dismissals, and cancellations, please plan to use alternate sources in the event the call system is overloaded or information has not been updated.

“Parents should plan to use all sources of communication available which includes the district website, school social media sites, The Taylorsville Times’ Breaking News, and WACB AM 860 radio station. The likelihood that all surrounding school systems will also be making calls during the same timeframe is extremely high. We do not want parents to depend on the call as the only source of information in an emergency situation,” according to school officials. “Many students have not returned the data forms to the schools and the larger schools have not had time to process all of the information into the system.”

The school system administration will maintain close contact with emergency management to determine any changes in the school schedule due to weather-related events.


Tips for Emergency Plans and Supplies Kit

• Gather your emergency supply kits with enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include cell phone charger, prescription medicines, copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.
• Know your evacuation route, and find out where friends and loved ones will be and how to get in touch with them.
• Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pets and put them in an easily-accessible container.
• Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds.
• Stay tuned to local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.

Download the “Ready NC” app Ready NC app or follow NC Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for weather updates and to learn how you can prepare for the storm.

OPEI offers power generator safety tips

Generators are critical during severe weather events, when the power can go out, as well as bringing power to remote job sites and in disaster recovery and emergencies. During hurricane season, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, reminds home and business owners to keep safety in mind when using generators.

“Not having power when you need it is frustrating, so a generator can provide emergency backup power at a reasonable cost. But, it’s important to follow all manufacturer’s instructions when using one,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “For instance, never place a generator in your garage or in your home. The generator should be a safe distance from your home and not near an air intake.”

More tips include:
• Take stock of your generator. Make sure equipment is in good working order before you start using it.
• Follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Review the owner’s manuals for your equipment if possible (you can look manuals up online if you cannot find them) so you can operate your equipment safely.
• Have the right fuel on hand. Use the type of fuel recommended by your generator manufacturer. If you are using fuel that has been sitting in a gas can for more than 30 days and you cannot get fresh fuel, add fuel stabilizer to it. Store gas only in an approved container and away from heat sources.
• Ensure portable generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should NEVER be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
• Keep the generator dry. Do not use it in wet conditions. You can cover and vent your generator. You can buy model-specific tents online or generator covers at home centers and hardware stores.
• Only add fuel to a cool generator. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
• Plug in safely. If you don’t yet have a transfer switch, you can use the outlets on the generator. It’s best to plug in appliances directly to the generator. If you must use an extension cord, it should be heavy-duty and designed for outdoor use. It should be rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Make sure the cord is free of cuts. The plug should have all three prongs.
• Install a transfer switch. A transfer switch connects the generator to your circuit panel and lets you power hardwired appliances. Most transfer switches also help you avoid overload by displaying wattage usage levels.
• Do not use the generator to “backfeed” power into your home electrical system. Trying to power your home’s electrical wiring by “backfeeding” – where you plug the generator into a wall outlet – is reckless and dangerous. You could hurt utility workers and neighbors served by the same transformer. Backfeeding bypasses built-in circuit protection devices, so you could damage your electronics or start an electrical fire.
• Install a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your home or business. This alarm will sound if any carbon monoxide comes into the building and alert you.

 

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