A tropical storm season that came in like lamb now seems destined to go out like a lion. While the remnants of Gustav soak the Midwest, we await Hanna's arrival along the East Coast in a couple of days. Close on its tail is Ike, and Josephine isn't far behind.

Those of us in the electrical industry (and those of us who've experienced hurricanes) know that one of the first things we worry about in a tropical storm is electricity — from downed wires to blackouts to water damage and the danger of electrical shock. Dominion Power, which supplies electricity throughout Virginia and North Carolina, has listed on its website some important guidelines for what to do in case of a hurricane — before, during, and after the storm.

You've undoubtedly heard some of the advice, such as keeping cash on hand and stocking up on canned and packaged food and water. But as you'd suspect, coming from a company like Dominion, many of the tips are related to electricity. For example, make sure to unplug electrical appliances, disconnect cable lines from TVs and stereos, and leave a lamp on so you'll know when power is restored. If you must reset circuit breakers, wear dry, rubber soled shoes and stand on something dry such as wood or furniture. Reset the breaker switches with one hand using a dry wooden tool. Don't touch the metal breaker box or other grounded objects. And turn refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings to keep food as fresh as possible in case of an outage.

And something I've found always comes in handy during the storm season — keep a battery-operated radio and plenty of batteries on hand. Even in an age of advanced communication technologies, during blackouts the old-fashioned portable radio remains our most reliable means of transmitting important information to the public.


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