Clearwater and Tampa Bay residents know a thing or two about heavy rain showers and thunderstorms in the summertime.
Hurricane season storms typically peak in August and September, and it’s no surprise that Florida regained its title of the “Lightning Capital of the U.S” again for 2022. These unpredictable storms can put your home and HVAC system at risk for a power outage and subsequent damages.
Regardless of the forecast, though, it’s important to know how to protect your home and AC unit before, during, and after a power outage in your area. Read on to learn more.
How to Prepare for an Unexpected Power Outage
A power outage is when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. It can happen at any time of day and is often caused by a storm, damaged power line, or utility maintenance in your neighborhood.
Power outages are most common after severe storms in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties and can impact homes and businesses in many ways, including:
- Disrupt communications, water, and transportation
- Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services
- Prevent use of medical devices
- Cause food spoilage and water contamination
Because outages can happen when you least expect it, it’s important to prepare your home and HVAC system well in advance. Read tips for before, during, and after a power outage below.
Need HVAC maintenance or repairs ahead of peak hurricane season? Contact Air Care today.
Before a Power Outage
Consider these precautions now—before you’re in the midst of a power outage:
- Take an inventory of household items that rely on power.
- Sign up for local emergency alerts through your city:
- Pinellas County, FL: Learn how to download the Ready Pinellas app.
- Hillsborough County, FL: Learn how to sign up for HCFL Alert.
- Pasco County, FL: Learn how to sign up for Emergency Alerts.
- Sign up for alerts through your utility provider (Duke Energy or Tampa Electric). Research how to submit an outage in the event your power goes out unexpectedly.
- Have enough non-perishable food and water for your household at all times, especially during Florida hurricane season.
- Build an emergency outage kit (e.g., Red Cross Outage Checklist). Be sure to include flashlights for every member in your household, handheld fans, and essentials like batteries and alternative power sources (portable chargers, power banks) to keep your devices running throughout the outage.
- If you have an emergency power source, like a generator, understand how to properly use it. Always have a licensed electrician install your generator—especially before storm season. Review more Duke Energygenerator safety tips.
- If someone in your household requires an electric medical device or refrigerated medication, contact your medical provider to establish an alternative plan of action.
- Check your local Pinellas, Pasco, or Hillsborough County official website about local shelters, so that in the event you need to evacuate or become too hot inside your home, you know where to go.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Clear plants and debris from around your outdoor AC condensing unit, creating a barrier of at least two feet all the way around.
For more tips on how to prepare your home and AC system from a storm, read this blog post.
During the Power Outage
In the midst of a power outage, it’s important to protect your home and family:
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage, and shut off your HVAC system from your thermostat. Power may return and quick electrical surges could cause damage.
- Use non-perishable food items that do not require refrigeration or electrical cooking.
- Keep your freezers and refrigerators closed. A refrigerator will keep food and medicine cold for about four hours, while a full freezer will stay cold for up to 48 hours.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. Only use grills and camp stoves outside and operate at least 20 feet away from your windows.
- Check on your neighbors, especially older adults and families with younger children.
- In the event of an extended outage, consider relocating to a community center (if and when it’s safe to commute).
Download and print this Power Outage Info Sheet from Ready.gov to be prepared during an outage.
After the Power Outage
Once the power comes back on, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Reconnect power to your appliances, electronics, and HVAC system.
- If you suspect your HVAC system is damaged after a storm, flooding or power outage, call our team at Air Care. We’ll inspect and repair to make sure it’s up and running again.
- If you use a generator to power your home during the outage, watch for utility provider crews in your area (i.e. Duke Energy, Tampa Electric, or contracted partners) before you turn it off to avoid hazardous electrical loads to power lines.
- Use the thermostat to check if/when your food is safe to consume. Throw away food that’s been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees, and check an unusual odor, color, or texture.
- If the power has been out for longer than 24 hours, disregard medication that should be refrigerated. When in doubt, check with your medical provider for advice or your pharmacist to refill your prescription.
When in doubt, always research whether your electrical equipment is safe to operate and food is safe to consume. Contact Air Care for advice on your HVAC system.
Tips for Protecting Your HVAC System During Hurricane Season
It’s no secret that when severe weather strikes in the Tampa Bay area, it’s accompanied by lots of rain, wind, flooding, and power outages. (Did you know that greater than 30 percent of Tampa Bay metro residents live in a moderate to high-risk flood zone?)
With almost all homes in Tampa Bay having at least one outside air conditioner condenser unit, Florida homeowners should consider these questions before a strong storm or weather event:
- How can I best protect my outdoor HVAC equipment from water damage during a flood?
- How can I prevent outdoor HVAC equipment from becoming a projectile in high winds or being damaged by other projectiles?
Whether you decide to shelter in place or evacuate prior to a major hurricane or tropical storm, use these seven tips for preparing your Florida AC unit for hurricane season.
Trust HVAC Contractors Who Understand Power Outages
Your HVAC system is made up of filters, coils, fins, pipes, and fluids. During a power outage, your AC equipment will shut off, along with the other electrical equipment in your home. Once the power comes back on, it’s important to ensure all of the AC components are working properly to effectively cool your home.
If you need to replace, repair, or tune-up your HVAC system, our team at Air Care is here to help. We’re also here to answer any questions you have about preparing your HVAC system for hurricane season, thunderstorms, and flooding.
“After you find a good, reliable company to do work for you, it is difficult to want to try to use any other. I had Air Care come out and fix my AC unit this summer, and I am very Satisfied with the service they provided.” Rob D. of Bellair, FL
Call Air Care at 727-449-2699 today.
Bay News 9: Did Florida regain title for lightning capital of US?
StateOfFlorida.com: Hurricane preparedness guide
Ready.gov: Power Outage Info Sheet