Duke Energy encourages Carolinas customers to prepare for Hurricane Isaias amid coronavirus pandemic

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With North Carolina and South Carolina possibly in the path of Hurricane Isaias, Duke Energy is preparing for potential power outages and encouraging customers to do the same.

Hurricane Isaias is forecasted to impact Florida on Saturday and Sunday, and the Carolinas on Monday and Tuesday.

"We know many of our customers are spending lots of time at home due to the pandemic, and they’re depending on us for reliable power,” said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s Carolinas storm director. “If power outages occur, our repair teams are ready to safely restore power as quickly as possible.”

During non-pandemic times, restoring power after a storm can be difficult for utility repair crews as travel and work conditions can be affected by high winds, fallen trees and flooding.

Now, in addition to addressing those standard challenges, Duke Energy’s detailed storm response plan has incorporated CDC recommendations for COVID compliance and social distancing measures to help keep customers and communities safe.

Repair crews will wear face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. In addition, work practices have been modified to reduce interactions.

Duke Energy requests that customers remain outside of marked work zones and refrain from approaching repair crews.

Outage alerts, reporting power outages

Before a storm hits, customers can sign up to receive outage alerts, and ensure contact information is current and communication preferences specified.

Customers who experience a power outage can report it the following ways:

• Visit duke-energy.com on a desktop computer or mobile device.

• Use the Duke Energy mobile app – download the Duke Energy App from a smartphone via Apple Store or Google Play.

• Text OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).

• Call Duke Energy’s automated outage-reporting system:

• Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-3766)

• Duke Energy Progress: 800.419.6356

Important safety tips

Duke Energy encourages customers to have a plan in place if they experience a power outage. Below are tips to help you and your family stay safe.

• Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines, water, non-perishable foods and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes. Your emergency kit should also include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and face coverings aligned with CDC guidance.

• Keep a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.

• Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of storms to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.

• Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required. When checking on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

• If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.

• If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it's critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.

Power restoration process

Duke Energy focuses on restoring power in a sequence that enables power restoration to public health and safety facilities and to the greatest number of customers as safely and quickly as possible. Click here for information on how Duke Energy restores power.

High-water safety reminders

• People who live along lakes and rivers, and in other low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding, should pay close attention to local emergency management officials, national weather service and media for changing weather conditions and rising lake and river levels.

• High water conditions can create navigational hazards, and the public should use caution and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials before going on area lakes or rivers.

• Members of the public who have electrical service to facilities (piers, outside lighting on seawalls, etc.) on or near water should have this service de-energized to avoid injuries and equipment damage.

• If rising water threatens your home — or if you evacuate your home — turn off your power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box.

• Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Don't drive over — and don't stand near — downed power lines.

• Downed lines will be hard to see in the rain and can potentially be hidden in standing water. If you encounter large pools of standing water, stop, back up and choose another path.

• If your home or business is flooded, Duke Energy cannot reconnect power until the electrical system has been inspected by a licensed electrician. If there is damage, an electrician will need to make repairs and obtain verification from your local building inspection authority before power can be restored.

Tips to protect refrigerated food during power outages

For customers who lose power and have full refrigerators and freezers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following:

• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

• A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. If the power will be out for more than four hours, use coolers to keep refrigerated food cold.

• A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

The FDA offers additional tips for proper food handling and storage before, during and after a power outage at www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods.