Categorized | Business, Energy, Hurricane

Hawaii Electric Light offers safety tips for its customers preparing for hurricanes


Highway 130 in Puna was closed due to trees and debris blocking the roadway from Tropical Storm Iselle Friday, August 8, 2014. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Highway 130 in Puna was closed due to trees and debris blocking the roadway from Tropical Storm Iselle Friday, August 8, 2014. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Hawai‘i Electric Light employees are preparing for potential impacts from approaching Hurricanes Madeline and Lester.

After Tropical Storm Iselle in 2014, Hawai‘i Electric Light has spent an estimated $14 million to clear trees and other vegetation that may topple and damage power lines. Nearly 94,000 trees have been cleared, including 31,000 invasive albizia. There is still work to be done. The strong winds and heavy rain expected from the approaching hurricanes may cause remaining trees to fall, breaking power lines and poles and causing power interruptions, so please be prepared.

“Keeping our employees and our community safe is our top priority as we prepare for and respond to storms,” said Rhea Lee-Moku, public information officer. “We strongly encourage everyone to complete their emergency preparations and monitor local news to stay informed.  If the Hawai‘i Island electric grid is impacted by Madeline or Lester, our employees will be deployed to the field to conduct damage assessments and start the process of restoring power once it is safe to do so.  We will not send our employees out in dangerous conditions.”

The key to successfully weathering these situations is to be prepared. The company offers the following safety tips:


  • Know the (Civil Defense) warning signals and where shelters are located
  • Place important documents such as insurance papers in waterproof bags or containers
  • Fill up the gas tank of your car
  • Keep cash or travelers checks on hand

Outside the home

  • Tie down or store all loose objects
  • Bring potted plants into the house
  • Fill up the gas tank of your car
  • Remove and store lanai furniture
  • Throw deck furniture into the pool
  • Cover all windows and door openings with boards, shutters or other shielding materials
  • For cooking, purchase butane, propane or a canned heat stove and enough fuel for 3-5 days, or a charcoal grill and charcoal. Do not use these units indoors
  • Properly secure propane tanks in a cool, dry and well-ventilated storage area
  • If you have photovoltaic panels installed on your roof, consult your licensed solar contractor regarding normal and emergency operation procedures for your system

Inside the home

  • Check emergency equipment such as flashlights, emergency generators, battery-operated, hand-crank, or solar-powered radios, light sticks and lanterns
  • Unplug electric appliances you may not need or use
  • Stock up on non-perishable foods, medications, personal hygiene, sanitary and baby supplies to last about 5-7 days
  • Purchase bottled water or store enough for one gallon per person per day, for about 5-7 days
  • Keep a first aid kit and special medications
  • Pack a manual can opener and bottle opener
  • Turn your refrigerator/freezer to the coldest setting; in the event of a power outage, food will keep fresh longer
  • Stock an ice chest with ice or frozen ice packs
  • Wedge a dowel or a piece of broom handle into the track of sliding glass doors to secure them
  • Store matches or a lighter in a waterproof container. Keep a whistle to signal for help
  • If you own a pet, have extra pet food and water

Medical patients

  • Home health care patients should discuss emergency plans with your physician or agency representative beforehand and make appropriate arrangements
  • If necessary, make prior arrangements with a hospital to stay there if you must evacuate
  • If you must go to a hospital or emergency facility, be sure to take your medicines and medical equipment/supplies with you

Hawai‘i Electric Light’s free “Handbook for Emergency Preparedness” provides these tips and helpful information including key phone numbers, emergency supply kit checklists, electrical safety, power outage preparedness and restoration, as well as household and food safety. It also provides references and links to related resources, such as the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and civil defense agencies. The handbook is printed in English, Cantonese, Ilocano, Korean, and Vietnamese and is available at the company’s customer service offices in Hilo and Kona and online at To request a printed copy, call 327-0543.

If there is a major power outage, Hawai‘i Electric Light provides safety information to local media, including power restoration updates. Outage notifications also are proactively issued on the company’s Twitter account @HIElectricLight with the hashtag #BigIslandOutage. If a storm knocks down a power line, stay at least 30 feet away from the line. To report a fallen line or a power outage, call 969-6666.

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