PSE&G employees spend thousands of hours each year working in storms and know how to prepare their homes during hurricane season and beyond. We spoke with several of them to gather top tips for you.
“You do learn over time what happens where you live and how to avoid it in the future,” Gas Operations Senior Project Manager Bill Elmer said. Elmer lives by the shore and often faces storms that bring strong winds and flooding. “If you’re new to an area, talk to your neighbors and get some history on how storms have affected your community.”
Fuel, food, meds and backup power
- Having a portable generator in working order and enough gas on hand to run it for several days is at the top of most storm-prep lists. If you don’t have a generator, talk with a neighbor about sharing the expense as many are powerful enough to handle the basic needs of several homes. If you have firewood or a wood-burning stove, stock enough fuel to use it for heat should you lose power. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not run any gasoline-powered generators in a garage or any other enclosed space.
- “Fill up your gas tank – in case you need to evacuate or check on family and friends,” Customer Operations Health & Safety Coordinator Bridget Reilley said.
“A portable car battery charger is another great precaution,” Electric Operations Health & Safety Coordinator Bob Lobbregt said.
- Reilley also recommends having at least three gallons of drinking water per person, a week’s worth of dried food like protein bars and crackers, and a week’s worth of required medications on hand as part of an emergency toolkit.
- “Batteries for flashlights, fully charged and backup batteries and power for computers and other devices, and glow sticks also are worth having on hand,” Customer Operations Health & Safety Coordinator Danielle Stinson Cunningham said.
Lobbregt said, “Motion-sensor LED lights are good investments because their batteries and bulbs last longer, and they are much safer than candles.”
“If we know we’re expecting a hurricane my husband will go get ice and put it in a cooler in case we need to transfer food to ice,” Stinson Cunningham said.
Flooding, winds and tree limbs
- Move your car to high ground so it won’t be impacted by flood waters.
- If your home is in a flood zone, have backup accommodations. If you’re expecting a flood, turn off power in advance, and know where things like your electric breaker box, natural gas and water feeds are located, and how and when to shut them off. Also, lock your windows as water often seeps through when they aren’t locked.
- Whether you’re in a house or an apartment with outside space, tie down or move inside anything that can blow away easily like lawn chairs. Outdoor furniture can break when knocked over by wind. Consider helping neighbors who need assistance or who are away so items don’t blow into your home and cause damage.
- Trim trees regularly to minimize the risk of them damaging your home or pulling down live wires.
“Not only do trees need to be pruned for safety, but cutting off dead or rotted branches can benefit the health of the tree,” Electric Operations Health & Safety Coordinator Ken Buess said. “Falling trees and branches can rip down your house service or, worse, the high voltage wires can be pulled down. Any wire on the ground is extremely dangerous. If you see wires down in the street or your yard, stay away and call PSE&G immediately, 1-800-436-7734.”
Plan in advance, especially for special circumstances
- Have a pre-storm checklist and follow it in advance of the storm.
- Make sure special circumstances that apply to you are on your checklist, such as:
- If you are on life-sustaining equipment, report it to local officials and PSE&G in advance.
- If you rely upon a well that needs electricity to run, consider filling your bathtub with water for household use before you lose power.
- If you work during storms, make sure your family knows facts from myths and has the basic information they need for storm prep. Or, have someone available to help them.
- Make plans for what to do if you lose electricity at home for several days.
- Have good books to read and ample sources of light.
- Pull out the board games, cards, etc.
- Think about games that you can safely play in the dark such as flashlight tag and shadow puppets.
“Young kids might be afraid of the storm itself, which is compounded by the lack of normal lighting in the house,” Electric Operations Health & Safety Supervisor Jimmy Niosi said. “It is sometimes useful to have a brand new toy in reserve ready to go if the power goes out. Ideally you don’t need to occupy your kids, and they can occupy themselves, but ensuring they are in a good mood preserves your mental sanity and makes riding out the storm much more bearable.”