Hawaiian Electric’s preparation for hurricane season, with tips for its Big Island customers
With the beginning of hurricane season on June 1 in the Central Pacific, Hawaiian Electric is advising residential and commercial customers to be prepared 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 2023 forecast is for four to seven tropical cyclones for the region, an estimate that includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.
Hawaiian Electric crews work year-round to make the company’s five island grids more resilient so they are better able to withstand severe events, including weather-related disasters, the company said in a news release.
Efforts include hardening poles, power lines and other equipment. The utility also spent $17 million in 2022 to clear trees and vegetation from around power lines and equipment, resulting in fewer and briefer outages during storms.
Hawaiian Electric’s work to boost resilience includes equipment upgrades and long-term planning. Here are some examples of the company’s ongoing resilience work on the Big Island:
- Installed 40 grid protecting devices in locations around the island to prevent or limit outages to fewer customers
- Commissioned the first smart loop on the 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. Digital copies of the handbook and a keiki-friendly booklet featuring Maka the Super Safety Hero are available at hawaiianelectric.com/prepare. The link includes information about where printed copies of the handbook can be picked up on all islands in Hawaiian Electric’s service territory.
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).