(BIVN) – Hurricane season is underway in the Central Pacific, and while things look to be quiet for Hawaiʻi – at least over the next seven days – the Hawaiian Electric company is advising residents to prepare for a possible future storm, and have emergency plans in place.
“The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is predicting a near-to-above-normal season due to El Nino conditions,” the power utility wrote in a Thursday news release. “The forecast is for four to seven tropical cyclones for the region, an estimate that includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes.”
Hawaiian Electric says its crews have been working year-round to make the company’s five island grids more resilient. The company says it has been hardening poles and power lines, and spent $17 million in 2022 “to clear trees and vegetation from around power lines and equipment, resulting in fewer and briefer outages during storms.”
On Hawaiʻi island, work included the installation of “40 grid protecting devices in various locations around the island to prevent or limit outages to fewer customers”, the company says.
Hawaiian Electric also says it commissioned the first “smart loop” on the Big Island to provide “intelligent automatic switching that will restore and isolate faulted areas.”
“To prepare for the hurricane season, customers can refer to the company’s Handbook for Emergency Preparedness,” the news release says. “Digital copies of the handbook and a keiki-friendly booklet featuring Maka the Super Safety Hero are available at hawaiianelectric.com. The link includes information about where printed copies of the handbook can be picked up on all islands in Hawaiian Electric’s service territory.”
Hawaiian Electric also says residents should develop their own emergency plans and consider these tips:
- Gather emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, lanterns and batteries. Be prepared to monitor communications over emergency broadcast radio stations.
- Store enough water, non-perishable food, medicine and personal hygiene supplies for your family members and pets to last at least 14 days.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electric appliances and equipment during a storm or a power outage. When power comes back and is stable, plug in the equipment one at a time.
- Shut off your electricity at the main breaker or switch if you need to evacuate.
- Consider having a backup generator if you are dependent on an electrically powered life support system. Or, make plans to go to an alternate location where electricity will be available. Be prepared to take your medical equipment and medications with you.
- If your business or residence is equipped with a backup generator, learn how to properly operate the device to avoid causing damage or injury.
- Prepare a list of emergency contacts including phone numbers for insurance agents, vendors, physicians, or any other important individuals.
- If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and dangerous. Stay away from downed power lines – at least 30 feet or more (at least two car lengths).
Hurricane season runs from today through November 30th.