Tampa Electric is committed to the safety of our employees, customers and community – especially during severe weather.
During storm season, we know we can face countless hazards from multiple sources. But the Tampa Bay area doesn’t have to experience a named storm to encounter hazardous conditions. Heavy rain, flooding and storm surge, strong winds and lightning can happen at any time. And, you don’t have to live on the coast. Inland areas are also at risk. That’s why it’s essential that you know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from danger.
To help you stay safe, we’ve assembled important tips and resources on common severe weather safety issues. We urge you to review this information. Make it a priority to prepare early, monitor emergency officials for the latest weather conditionsm and use extreme caution during and after storms and severe weather.
Severe Weather Safety
Knowledge is power. Be #StormWise when it comes to severe weather – know what to do and when to do it before it’s too late. Follow these tips for the best outcome when it comes to storms.
Prepare yourself, your loved ones and your employees.
Make a Plan
Create an Emergency Plan for loved ones and employees. Be sure to include plans for your pets and livestock.
Pack Your Kit
Pack your Hurricane Preparedness Kit and be ready to go at any time. Check radio, flashlights and batteries and gather non-perishable foods.
Participation in Medical Watch does not provide priority restoration, extended payment options or guaranteed uninterrupted service.
Use a NOAA weather alert radio to monitor storm updates and emergency announcements.
Prepare your home and business.
Turn refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings; consider making blocks of ice and storing them in coolers; sanitize the bathtub and fill it with water. Visit food and water safety for more information.
To protect your valuables and furniture from damage if a window or door breaks, cover them in plastic and move them toward the center of the room, away from windows.
If you are in a flood zone, pick up anything that could be damaged by water off the floor.
Turn Off Power
Turn your non-essential appliances and electronics off, or unplug them, to keep them safe from surges during a storm.
- If you’re leaving your home for an extended period, switch off the power at the main breaker.
Prepare For Power
If there’s a power outage, prepare your home for power to be restored. Tto help avoid damage, wait 5 to 10 minutes before turning appliances and electronics back on after the power is restored. This puts less stress on the power system and ensures all customers get restored without unnecessary delays.
- Ensure there are no flammable items on the stove, no small electronics left on, or other potentially dangerous situations.
- Turn off as many appliances as possible that require electricity and turn them on individually after power is restored.
Repair Meter Damage
If your residential electric meter system is damaged due to severe weather, Tampa Electric will repair the service line, connections and the electric meter. Individual customers are responsible for repairing equipment related to the delivery of electric service to the home. A licensed electrician should repair any damaged components.
Did you know Florida is the lightning strike capital of the country? On average, we have about 110 lightning events every 85 miles. Unfortunately, lightning strikes are more common during storm season – especially during severe weather. Remember, if you hear thunder, then lightning is within ten miles. The shorter the time elapsed between when you see lightning and hear thunder, the closer the lightning is to you. Protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous lightning by following these safety tips during a storm.
If you encounter lightning, seek shelter away from open spaces. Shelter in a low-lying area, house, large building, or an automobile with a metal roof. Stay away from doors and keep windows closed.
Do not shelter under trees, power lines or utility poles during a lightning storm. If you can’t find shelter, crouch down and put your feet together, with your hands over your ears.
If you’re in the water and you see lightning, get out as quickly as possible. Do not boat, fish engage in water-related activities or touch water when lightning is present.
When lightning’s in the area, do not touch any metal objects such as automobiles, electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, golf equipment and carts, bicycles and power tools.
Stay Far From Tornados
Find a sturdy shelter. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor and avoid windows and doors.
Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, headsets, landline telephones, computers, power tools, and TVs. Lightning can strike exterior electric and phone lines and send shocks to inside equipment.
Power Line Safety
Electrical hazards can happen anywhere, at any time. Stay safe around power lines and other electrical hazards by following these tips, downloading our Power Line Safety flyer and visiting the Electrical Safety Foundation’s Power Line Safety site.
Avoid Power Lines
STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM POWER LINES AS POSSIBLE! Always assume downed power lines are energized. They do not have to pop and snap to be energized. NEVER TOUCH power lines, or anyone or anything that touches power lines – such as a tree branch, fence, vehicle or even water. If you see a downed power line, call 888-223-0800.
DO NOT drive over downed power lines. If a power line contacts any part of your vehicle, stay inside and tell others to stay away until the line is safely removed and power is turned off. If you must leave the car due to a life-threatening situation, DO NOT touch the car while getting out. Jump clear of the car and land on both feet. When your feet hit the ground, shuffle or hop away from the vehicle to a safe area. No part of your body should be touching the car when your feet hit the ground.
Look Before You Trim
DO NOT trim trees or vegetation touching or near power lines. Only qualified tree contractors should trim trees around power lines. Use our online tree trimming form to report tree limbs that may interfere with electric service.
Treat solar panels like power lines. Avoid downed/damaged solar panels, wiring and components. Assume they are energized like a power line. Stay as far away as possible and call 911 for assistance.
Stay Away from Power Lines
Portable generators can be a lifesaver during a power outage but are deadly if not used properly. They pose a threat of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution. We urge you to follow these tips and read all the information provided by your generator manufacturer before use. You may also visit FEMA’s Generator Safety website for more information.
Fixed or Permanent Generators
It is acceptable to use fixed or permanent standby generators during a power interruption that are installed by a licensed electrician and include a double-throw transfer switch. A properly installed transfer switch helps protect lineworkers by isolating the generator from the main electric grid to prevent backfeeding.
DO NOT connect a portable generator to home circuits. Plug appliances directly into the generator. Connecting a portable generator to home circuits may cause power to flow to outside lines, posing a life-threatening danger to restoration crews.
DO NOT operate portable generators indoors, in closed garages, near AC ducts, or in other enclosed areas. Portable generators operated in a residence or enclosed space can create deadly carbon monoxide gas.
Additional Portable Generator Safety Information:
Watch for Lineworkers
- Please watch for utility crews and turn the generator off when crews are in your area. The electrical load on the power lines can be hazardous for crews making repairs.
Beware of Rain
- DO NOT run an uncovered portable generator in the rain. Operate in a dry outdoor location to avoid the threat of electrocution.
Use an Electrician
- Call an electrician to repair a generator. Never attempt to repair it yourself.
- Always have a licensed electrician install stationary or standby emergency generators.
How to Use
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and proper operation.
- To avoid electrocution, plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.
- DO NOT connect portable generators directly to a breaker panel, fuse box or meter box because of the hazard it can create for utility line workers.
- Keep children and pets away from generators.
Beware of Fire
- Obey all local, state and national electrical and fire codes.
- Store gasoline in approved fuel containers and out of children’s reach.
- Have a fully charged, properly rated fire extinguisher (i.e., rated for electrical and gas fires) ready at all times.
- Never replenish fuel in a generator when it is running.
Flooding and storm surges are a huge threat in severe weather. They can destroy property and create life-threatening conditions. Protect the things and people you love by being aware of, and prepared for, flooding during severe weather. Visit the National Weather Service’s Flood Safety page for additional resources.
Avoid Flood Waters
Stay out of floodwater and storm surge. They can hide energized power lines and other hazards. Wait until the waters have receded to go outside.
If rising water threatens your home – or if you evacuate your home – turn off your power at the main switch (circuit breaker panel or fuse box) in case water enters your home.
Hire a Professional
If your home or business is flooded, Tampa Electric can only reconnect power once the electrical system has been inspected by a licensed electrician. If there is damage, an electrician will need to make necessary repairs and obtain certification from your local building inspection authority before power can be restored.
Get an Inspection
If your vehicle is submerged in water, it may be a safety hazard. Do not store the vehicle indoors or near other cars. Have an authorized service technician inspect it for any damage that could pose a fire risk.
Know Your Zone
Visit your county’s emergency management website to determine your flood and hurricane evacuation zones, get flood depth data, and flood insurance information, or help with property flood protection for residents.
Turn Off Power
- When leaving your home for an extended period, or if flooding is imminent, turn your electricity off while your home is still dry. Flip each circuit breaker off one at a time and then turn off the main circuit breaker to avoid a fire hazard.
- If your breaker box is located outside or in a room that is holding water, do NOT turn off the power yourself. Contact your utility company and ask them to shut off the power at the meter.
- When you return home after flooding, do NOT turn the power back on yourself. Have a licensed electrician check your home and re-energize your circuits.
If your home or business has flooded, follow these safety tips to reduce your risk of electrocution:
- Do not touch any electrical devices or appliances while standing in water.
- Do not touch anything electrical that has been in contact with water.
- Do not enter any area where the water has risen above the electrical outlets.
- Beware of areas where any wiring may be underwater.
- Do NOT plug wet appliances in until they can be checked by a technician and found to be safe.
If your EV has been submerged in water, do NOT attempt to drive it or connect it to charging! Check the manufacturer's guidelines to make sure it is safe to charge your EV in wet conditions.
Keep 'Em Dry
Water and electricity don't mix! DO NOT touch wet electrical equipment such as transformers, circuit breaks, fuses, power lines, wiring, etc., or use or touch wet electrical appliances with wet hands, in or near water, or while standing on a wet or damp surface.
Natural Gas Safety
When used properly, natural gas is safe and reliable. However, as with all types of energy, improper or careless use can damage property or cause personal injury. Learn more about keeping your home or business safe.
Check for Leaks
You may leave your natural gas on during a storm or evacuation. Although you can turn off the supply valves of gas appliances, only qualified personnel should operate the main valve. Pilot light issues should be addressed by a licensed plumber or appliance technician.
Visit these helpful sites for additional information on severe weather and hurricane preparation, recovery and emergency information.
For even more storm-related tips and safety information:
- Visit our Storm Center.
- Download our Hurricane Brochure.
- Check Florida's Safety Page.
- Understand our Storm Protection Plan.
- Learn our Power Restoration Plan.
- Report or get an update on a power outage.
Local Emergency Management Resources:
Government and Non-Profit Resources:
- Ready.gov- Hurricane Information
- Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness- Hurricane Preparedness
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)- Assistance After a Disaster
- Florida Disaster- Preparing for the Hurricane Season
Register for Special Needs Assistance.
If you or a loved one have special needs and require help locating a shelter or transportation, primarily during storm-related emergencies, now is the time to contact your county’s emergency management agency to arrange for assistance.
A statewide registry provides emergency management agencies and first responders with valuable information about your special needs and to prepare and respond to disasters and other emergencies. All your information is kept confidential. Visit FloridaDisaster.org to learn more or contact the special needs registry in your area.