BELCO Monitoring Tropical Storm Paulette

September 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

BELCO said their crisis management team will “meet regularly and closely monitor the approach of Tropical Storm Paulette,” adding that “assets are being put in place before the arrival of the storm so that once it has passed any restoration efforts can proceed quickly and efficiently.”

A spokesperson said, “Forecasters are calling for Tropical Storm Paulette to pass close to Bermuda, potentially as a hurricane, between the evening of Monday, September 14 and the morning of Tuesday, September 15. Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited [‘BELCO’ or the ‘Company’] today provided an update and advice to customers as the storm approaches.

“BELCO has engaged the Company’s crisis management team who will meet regularly and closely monitor the approach of Tropical Storm Paulette. In the event of power outages, the team will continue to meet and coordinate restoration efforts until all power is restored. Assets are being put in place before the arrival of the storm so that once it has passed any restoration efforts can proceed quickly and efficiently.

“During the storm, residents are encouraged to visit our website at www.belco.bm for up to date information. Our storm smart guide can also be downloaded from our website with all info required to stay safe during the storm.

“Residents should also be aware of the following safety tips:

Downed power lines

Downed power lines pose extreme danger.

  • Stay away from downed power lines – at least 35 feet or more [that’s approximately three car lengths].
  • Always assume downed power lines are energised and dangerous.
  • Stay clear of piles of debris or downed foliage that may conceal live power lines.
  • Do not run from a fallen line. Running from a fallen line may cause your legs to bridge current from higher to lower voltage and you may receive a shock. Instead, keep your legs together and shuffle away with both feet on the ground. Shuffle a safe distance [35 feet or more] away from other utility poles.

Generators

“Generators are extremely useful tools, but they can also be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.

  • Carbon monoxide fumes emitted by a generator’s exhaust cannot be smelled or seen and can be fatal. Never operate a generator in any part of your home or indoor space, regardless of whether there are open windows. Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors only and away from windows.
  • Connecting your generator directly into your home power supply could energise the outside power lines and electrocute an unwary utility worker. If you must connect the generator through the house wiring to power appliances, use a qualified and licensed electrician to install an appropriate power transfer switch.
  • Never store fuel for your generator in your house, and do not store fuel near a fuel-burning appliance such as a stove or water heater. Before refuelling a generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilt on a hot engine can ignite.

Overloaded Electrical Outlets

“Overloaded electrical outlets or extension cords pose a serious fire risk.

  • Never overload your electrical outlets. Overloaded outlets are one of the main causes of electrical fires, especially during and after a major storm when systems are more fragile.

Unplug Sensitive Electronic Equipment

“Unplug any appliance, electronics or other sensitive equipment before the onset of high winds.

  • While plug-in surge protectors protect against common, small surges, unplugging is the safest bet for lightning surges that may occur during a storm.

Stay off the roads

“Clear roads are an important part of a safe recovery in the aftermath of a major storm.

  • Never go sightseeing during or immediately after a storm. You risk your life as well as the lives of people who may try to help you should you get into trouble. You will also hamper the work of emergency crews and first responders.

Water Damage

“Water damaged electrical appliances or wiring are extremely dangerous.

  • Never touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electrical shock.
  • Never use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as freezers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. For those that have been under water, have them repaired by a qualified electrician before use.
  • Wiring that has become wet or damaged during a major storm cannot be safely reused, even it appears to have completely dried. It must be replaced. Identify any wiring that was under water or dampened. If the water did not reach all levels of a building, wiring that was not wet may still be safely used. Have a qualified electrician inspect any suspect electrical appliances or wiring before use.

“Due to safety measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be slight delays in restoration efforts in the event of power outages. If required, local retirees will be engaged to assist in restoration efforts.

“Unfortunately, BELCO will not engage additional help from the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation [CARILEC] or Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. due to quarantine restrictions and safety measures put in place to protect Company staff.”

BELCO President Dennis Pimentel said: “First and foremost we urge everyone to be safe and not take any unnecessary risks during the storm should it impact Bermuda.

“Having worked through several major hurricanes, I am confident our crews are ready to assist once the storm has passed. Please ensure they have access to areas they need to work to repair damaged power lines so that power can be restored to all our customers as quickly as possible.”

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