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Take steps to avoid stress from the storm

Contact loved ones, if possible, so it’s known that everyone is OK.

Stay connected with your community, friends, relatives and neighbors. Don’t let yourself become isolated.

Expect to go through the natural grieving process — denial, questioning, acceptance and recovery.

Stress might begin for you as early as the start of hurricane season. Don’t wait until the crisis is nearly on us to first work on managing your stress or seeking help .

You might experience short tempers, a reluctance to abandon your property, guilt over having been unable to better prevent damage, flashbacks of the ordeal, difficulty in making decisions and letting pride get in the way of accepting help. Recognize these as effects from the crisis that will pass. Talk about your feelings with friends or relatives, or if necessary contact social agencies for help.

You’ll find yourself worn out as recovery drags on and you yearn to return to normalcy. Pay attention to your physical health. Make sure you’re eating properly and getting plenty of rest.

Avoid drugs or alcohol. You need to be alert.

Avoid argument and confrontation. You need teamwork and camaraderie to get through recovery.

If you’ve escaped injury or damage, it’s natural to experience “survivor’s guilt.” Don’t push yourself too hard trying to help others.

Seniors or the disabled might not be strong enough to prepare homes, install window coverings and drive to get supplies.

Make sure both their needs and their mental health are taken care of and that they have plenty of supporters.

Generator safety tips

Never run your generator in a garage, carport, crawl space, shed or porch. Place outdoors but under cover to prevent electrocution if unit gets wet. Be sure the generator isn’t positioned outside an open window, which can allow fumes into the home.

Use a carbon-monoxide alarm that’s battery-operated or has battery backup.

Never feed power from a portable generator into a wall outlet. This can kill linemen working to restore power or your neighbors who are served by the same transformer. It also can damage your generator.

Don’t use power cords that are frayed, torn or cut. This can cause a fire or shock. Be sure all three prongs are intact and the cord is outdoor-rated. The cord’s wattage or amps must not be smaller than the sum of the connected appliance loads.

Store fuel and generator in a ventilated area and away from natural-gas water heaters. Vapors can escape from closed cans and tanks, travel to the pilot light and ignite.

Never have wet hands when operating a generator. Never let water come in contact with the generator.

Make sure you have the right cords and connectors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says you should not use an auxiliary tank.

Most starters use rope pulls. If yours uses a battery, keep it charged.

Always turn the engine off before refueling and let the generator cool.

Don’t spill fuel. It can ignite.

Even in the off-season, your portable generator can become just that, at the hands of a thief. Permanently bolt it down or at least secure it with a strong chain and lock.

More information: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Need more power? Many homeowners opt for large standby generators

Large, permanent generators — also known as automatic standby generators — are more powerful and quieter then their portable counterparts. And newer models are better and less intrusive than older versions.

Most are powered by propane or natural gas stored in large underground tanks or are fed by service lines. That means no shuttling to service stations to fill gasoline cans.

They’re directly wired into the home’s circuit panel. When power goes out, just fire it up and flip a switch.

Some units have a “brain” that detects outages, automatically starts the generator, and switches circuits in seconds. When power resumes, the system flips back to the house circuit and powers down the generator.

Standby generators can range in power up to 45,000 watts — enough to power an entire large home.

Determining if you need a standby generator

List the appliances you’ll want operating in an outage and total the required wattage.

Most units range in price from $10,000-$30,000. You’ll also have to pay for a concrete slab, installation and wiring.

You’ll be subject to the laborious, and costly, permitting process used for new driveways, fences, shutters and roofs. You’ll also need to meet the rules of your local homeowners association.

You’ll need to be familiar with the manufacturer’s guidelines for placement and operation. Some homes will not have room outside to place generators and still have the required space for proper ventilation and to meet fire codes and zoning.

Finding a reputable company

Consumer groups and even the police in the past have dealt with complaints that generator sales and installation outfits took money and either delivered the generators but never installed them, or never delivered them at all.

Some companies poured just the concrete slab. Some delivered units but never pulled permits.

Make sure the company shows its license. Check for complaints. Get referrals.

Sources: Palm Beach Post archives, bobvila.com, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida Power & Light Co.

Checklist: Outside the home

Be cautious following a storm

Do not leave your home or shelter until emergency officials tell you it’s safe.

In the yard

If your home is open to the elements or you fear it will collapse, get out. Secure it as best you can, get as many valuables out as possible and find another place to stay. 

If your boat is in your yard, inspect it and document damage for insurance. Repair what you can. Pump water out. Check the fuel, electrical systems for damage.

In the neighborhood

DON’T TOUCH POWER LINES. Watch for downed lines. Consider every power line energized. Do not attempt to touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them.

Watch your step. The area could be covered with broken glass and other debris.

Don’t walk in standing water and don’t venture out in the dark because you might not see a power line that could be energized and dangerous.

Watch for insects, snakes and other animals — including alligators — driven out by high water.

If your neighborhood floods during the storm, listen to the radio for instructions.

Watch and listen for reports of storm-spawned tornadoes.

Be careful about letting your pet outdoors. Landmarks and scents might be gone, and your pet might get lost. 

In the area

If you stayed outside your neighborhood, do not return to it until you get the all-clear. Roads may be blocked.

You might have to show proof of residency, such as a driver license or insurance documents, before being allowed back in.

Law enforcement agencies likely will impose curfews; hours and extent to depend on damage. Anyone out would be subject to arrest.

Driving will be treacherous. Traffic lights likely will be out and streets will be filled with debris and downed power lines. When traffic lights are dark, intersections become four-way stops.

If flooding occurs, try calling local government or drainage districts before calling the water management district.

Don’t go to the coast or barrier islands until you get word that it’s safe to do so.

Living without power

Many hurricane-related deaths result from accidents after the storm. Among the dangers: fires from candles and gas canisters; carbon-monoxide poisoning from generators; traumatic injuries from power tools, nails and chainsaws; and heat-related injuries from no air-conditioning.

Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances that are still plugged in, and turn off all wall switches.

When resetting circuit breakers, do not attempt to touch them if you are wet or are standing in water or on a wet floor. Wear dry, rubber-soled shoes and stand on something dry and non-conductive, such as a dry piece of wood or wooden furniture.

DO NOT STAND IN WATER when using switches, unplugging anything, or touching an electrical appliance, wiring or tools.

Be careful walking around your home. Loose electrical wires, ceilings and beams might fall.

If your roof or windows leak, water in your walls and ceiling may come into contact with electrical wiring.

Don’t use candles.

Do not use electrical or gas appliances until they’re dry. Replace any appliances, gas control valves, electric circuit breakers, ground-fault interrupters and fuses that have been in water.

You may need a licensed electrical contractor to survey your house and make repairs, depending on the damage.

If the meter, the box that holds it, or any of the external pipes and wires associated with the meter are missing, bent or otherwise damaged, FPL may not be able to reconnect service until a licensed electrician makes the necessary repairs.

If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your emergency plan for backup power or make arrangements to relocate.

Open all doors and windows so noxious smells and gases can escape. Check for gas leaks.

Don’t smoke indoors until everything has dried.

Never use a charcoal grill inside the home or garage.

Business tips

During a storm, more people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.

Consider wireless text/short messaging services. During a storm, text messages will often go through quicker than voice calls because they require less network resources.

You can also use certain high-end wireless data devices’ messaging capabilities to communicate with employees during a storm.

Keep non-emergency calls to personnel to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. During severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates. 

If the storm worsens, head to ‘safe room’

If you do not feel safe during the storm, head immediately to the “safe room” in your home.

A secure room should be an interior room that has enough space for everyone, and a quick way out if necessary. It should be a secure, windowless (but ventilated) place. It can be a standard, 6-by-6-foot room, bathroom or walk-in closet. Special accessibility needs should be considered.

An emergency supply and first aid kit should be in the room. There should be an adequate supply of food and water for everyone who will be in the room.

Surviving the storm: Remain in the safe room— you could be in it for hours — until weather authorities have issued an “all clear” for your area.

More: http://www.fema.gov/safe-rooms

Stay inside, away from windows and doors

When a hurricane hits, do everything you can to protect yourself:

Stay inside, away from windows and doors.

Close all interior doors — secure and brace external ones.

Don’t use the telephone or electrical appliances.

Make sure all electrical and gas appliances are turned off.

Do not open the refrigerator door except when necessary.

If the storm becomes intense, retreat to an interior “safe room”.

If you fear your house will come down, place a mattress over you in your safe room. If in the bathroom, get in the bathtub with a mattress covering you.

In a high-rise building or condo, avoid upper floors, where the wind is strongest, and the ground floor, where flooding is possible.

Monitor local radio and television stations.

Don’t leave your home or shelter until emergency officials say it’s safe. You may be in the eye, with more of the storm to come.

Weather observers brave 100-plus mph winds atop mountain

You wouldn’t know it’s the middle of May at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire.

The mountain received a winter blast on Monday, with snow and winds topping out at 109 mph, and gusts near the 100 mph mark blew through the region through the afternoon.

>> Read more trending stories

Two intrepid weather observers, Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham, were brave enough to step out onto the observation deck to experience the hurricane-force winds, which were accompanied by snow. The pair’s adventure was recorded and posted on the observatory’s Facebook page. In the video, it is clear that it is hard to stay on one’s feet because of the force of the wind.

>>Spring retreat: Mid-may snow blankets parts of US

The observatory promises that summer is just around the corner.

 

7 things to do during National Hurricane Preparedness Week

With the June 1 Atlantic basin hurricane season approaching, the National Hurricane Center is reminding everyone that preparation is key.

>> Read more trending stories  

While the U.S has not been hit by a major hurricane in a decade, forecasts this year are pointing to a near to slightly above-average season, and that means a better chance of a storm making landfall.

NHC Director Rick Knabb has posted a blog to kick off the week with some interesting comments he hears every year, including: “I’ve lived here for decades and we’ve never had a hurricane. I figure I’m good.”

“These are ‘before’ statements,” Knabb said in his blog.

What do they say afterward? “No one told me it could be this bad.”

With that in mind, here are 7 things the NHC wants people to do before hurricane season begins:

  • Determine your risk. 
  • Develop an evacuation plan.
  • Get an insurance check-up.
  • Shop for supplies.
  • Strengthen your home.
  • Identify trusted sources of information.
  • Complete your written hurricane plan.

Spring retreat: Mid-May snow blankets parts of US

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, not flurries.

Old Man Winter has roared back for one more blast, even though it’s mid-May.

>> Read more trending stories

Areas of Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin received snow this weekend. Those affected posted wintry scenes on social media.

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/wacky-weather-mid-may-snow/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/wacky-weather-mid-may-snow.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script>[View the story "Wacky weather: Mid-May snow" on Storify] 

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