MECO Urges Public to Take Storm Precautions
By Wendy Osher
Maui Electric Company is urging customers to take electrical safety precautions as Tropical Storm Flossie approaches Maui.
At 8 a.m., the storm was located 80 miles NE of Hilo; 160 miles E SE of Kahului, Maui; and 210 miles E SE of Kaunakakai; 190 miles E of Lānaʻi City, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Maximum sustained winds are at 40 mph, with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 90 miles from the center; Present movement is WNW at 20 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Before the storm hits MECO advises that customers take the following precautions:
- Turn off and unplug unnecessary electrical equipment, especially sensitive electronics which could be damaged by a power surge.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their highest settings. If power goes out, keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible and food will stay fresh longer. (Make sure to turn the settings back to normal levels after the storm has passed.)
If your power goes out MECO issued the following advice:
- If you plan to use a portable generator, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Don’t plug the generator directly to your household electrical outlets; this can cause power to flow back into power lines causing a safety hazard. Instead, plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty extension cords.
- Use flashlights instead of candles or kerosene lamps which can pose a fire risk. Be especially careful with cooking flames indoors as a gust of wind could start a fire.
- Don’t use charcoal or other fossil fuels to cook indoors as they can create deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Cook only in well-ventilated areas.
- Leave one light on so you’ll know when your power returns.
If you see a downed power line MECO suggests that the following steps be taken:
- Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires or anything such wires may be touching; assume every wire is still energized and dangerous. Stay clear of puddles where downed lines may have landed. Stay away and warn others to stay clear. Call the Maui Electric Trouble Line at 871-7777 on Maui or 1-877-871-8461 on Molokai and Lanai. Call 911 for immediate emergency help.
- If a power line has fallen on a car that you are in, stay inside the car if possible and wait for help. If you can, try to break contact with the line by driving the car away from it. If you need to get out of the car right away because of some other pending danger like fire, jump out and away from the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground and try to land with two feet. Do this to avoid having your body become an electrical path from the car to the ground.
***Supporting information courtesy Maui Electric Company.