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Media Advisory / Hurricane Preparedness Week

May 23, 2009

New survey shows more than 60 percent of Texas Gulf Coast residents unprepared for the next hurricane

MCALLEN, Texas, May 23 /PRNewswire/ – Despite the impacts of Ike, Dolly, Edouard and Gustav a few short months ago, a new survey conducted on behalf of CPL Retail Energy suggests that Texans could do more to get ready for Hurricane Season.

More than 60 percent of Texas Gulf Coast residents do not believe themselves to be well prepared for the next hurricane, and of those who do consider themselves to be moderately or well prepared, few have taken the necessary pre- and post-hurricane steps to be ready for Hurricane Season. This news comes just in time for Hurricane Preparedness Week, beginning May 24.

“We conducted the survey to assess current levels, attitudes and opinions of hurricane preparedness among Texas Gulf Coast residents to ensure they know how to safeguard their families and homes,” said Lisa Dornan, director of public relations for CPL. Dornan emphasizes the importance of the survey as hurricane season’s official June 1 start approaches.

Of immediate pre-hurricane precautions, only about a third of respondents had a written family disaster plan. Fewer than half of those heads-of-households who consider themselves very well prepared say they have one, and less than a quarter of the moderately prepared or ill-prepared families have one. Although most have taken some precautions like having a vehicle in good repair with a full tank of gas, and ensuring that important household papers, like school records, house title and insurance records are in one place, Gulf Coast residents need the most education about home preparations – including unplugging major electrical appliances and turning off the water to their home.

“We found that more than 60 percent of Texas coastal residents do not unplug their washer and dryer to prevent power-surge damage or turn off their water to prevent flooding from broken pipes. In addition, about 88 percent do not remove fuses from their air conditioning systems to prevent damage,” said Dornan.

In post-hurricane preparations, survey results show that overall, only a quarter of residents had three days of non-perishable food or a first aid kit on hand, and only one in five had sufficient water stored for an emergency. Only a quarter of those over the age of 65 have a two-week’s supply of prescription medications in case of an emergency. Of the 11.5 percent who have an adult who will need special assistance beyond a family member to evacuate, more than 70 percent are not registered with 2-1-1 Special Needs Registry.

The survey also questioned residents on individual evacuation procedures. Only one in four residents said they would leave immediately during a voluntary evacuation. Seven out of 10 say they would leave immediately in case of a mandatory evacuation, leaving over a quarter waiting to see what the storm does or staying for the duration. Of those who would stay for the duration of the storm, residents were either those who considered themselves to be well prepared or least prepared.

“Our experience has shown that the bigger the storm, the more damage to transmission lines, which will leave residents without power for extended periods; even those who evacuate are likely to come back before power has been restored and we want to make sure they are prepared,” said Dornan. “The most important message to those who reside in zones which are advised to ‘hunker down’ for the storm or residents who make the decision to stay for the duration of a storm is to ensure you have the appropriate amount of critical supplies such as water, batteries, non-perishable food items and prescription drugs. Regardless of whether you stay or leave, it is important to unplug appliances and electronics along with removing a/c fuses to avoid damage caused by power surges when lines and power is restored.”

As a major energy provider to the Gulf Coast area, CPL Retail Energy wants to ensure that Texas customers know how to safeguard their families and homes. CPL is providing useful tips in helping prepare for a hurricane and avoiding electrical issues during the aftermath:

Before A Hurricane:

  • Stock non-perishable food supplies, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries in air-tight containers.
  • Adjust refrigerator temperatures to the coldest settings to reduce the potential for food spoiling if the power is temporarily lost.
  • Have a non-electric analog telephone or a fully-charged cell phone available in case you need to make an emergency call during a power outage.
  • Heed the advice of local authorities. Evacuate if ordered.
  • If an evacuation is necessary, unplug all appliances, TV’s and computers before leaving your home.
  • Remove fuses from air conditioning system to prevent damage.
  • Turn off water to prevent flooding from broken pipes.
  • Turn off gas to prevent leaks from occurring.

During a Hurricane

  • Turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker or fuse box to protect appliances from power surges.
  • Do not take a bath or shower and avoid water faucets, which can conduct electricity.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment and do not use the telephone except for an emergency.

After a Hurricane

  • When power is restored to your home, do not start all major appliances at once; turn them on gradually to reduce damage to sensitive equipment.
  • Avoid downed, damaged or loose power lines and report them immediately to the local police and fire department as well as to the local transmission and distribution services provider in your area.
  • Never use a generator indoors, including garages, basements and crawlspaces, even with ventilation. Exhaust fumes contain high levels of carbon monoxide which can be deadly if inhaled. Even when left outside, keep generators away from doors and windows, and at least 10 feet away from your home. Also, allow your generator to cool off before refilling it with gas – splashing gas on hot generator components can lead to fire.
  • Do not use electrical or gas appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on damaged appliances because of the hazards of electric shock or fire.
  • Never use charcoal indoors because burning charcoal produces high levels of carbon monoxide that can reach lethal levels in enclosed spaces.

About the survey:

The Texas Gulf Coast Hurricane Preparedness Survey conducted by The Ampersand Agency on behalf of CPL Retail Energy was conducted in two stages with a four-zone breakdown of the region: Harris County, East, Southwest and Nueces/Cameron Counties. From April 15-22, 331 Texas Gulf Coast heads of household, aged 18 and over, were sampled with a plus or minus 5.5 percent margin of error. From April 23-26, additional people were surveyed, bringing the same up to 99 people in Cameron and 101 people in Nueces County. Those samples were then weighted down. This oversampling allowed CPL to analyze the result in each of those two counties with a 10 percent margin of error, giving an increase in the reliability of the survey.

About CPL Retail Energy:

CPL Retail Energy is part of the Centrica group of companies, one of the largest multi-state providers of retail energy services in North America. The North American operations have grown to more than 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Through its Direct Energy, CPL Retail Energy and WTU Retail Energy brands, the company is the third largest retail energy provider in Texas, and owns a series of energy-related services companies. The company also offers comprehensive energy solutions to more than 60,000 businesses across North America. Globally, the Centrica group of companies is a leading provider of energy and other essential services with approximately 32 million customer relationships. For more information, visit www.cplretailenergy.com.

TEXAS GULF COAST FACT SHEET – Hurricane Preparedness

  • In addition to securing your home, gathering important documents and emergency supplies, some less common preparations can be taken now:
    • Over 70% surveyed do not have a written family disaster plan
    • 15% of ages 18-34 and 23% African American respondents do not have a vehicle in good repair with a full tank of gas
    • 25% of the general population including seniors and Hispanics, as well as 45% of African Americans surveyed do not have hurricane insurance coverage
  • Of those surveyed, most respondents unplug TVs and computers and remove items from their yards or patios, however, there are additional home preparations:
    • More than 40% of those surveyed do not secure their homes by boarding up or installing shutters. African Americans total more than 68%
    • 60% of those surveyed do not unplug the washer and dryer to prevent power surge damage
    • Over 60% do not turn-off water services to prevent flooding from broken pipes
    • Over 85% do not remove fuses from air conditioning system to prevent damage
  • Of those surveyed, an average of 75% of the respondents have a post-storm emergency kit, but the majority were lacking in the quantity of needed supplies:
    • Over 65% do not have a three-day supply of non-perishable foods
    • More than 80% of respondents do not have a fully stocked first-aid kit
    • Over 70% do not have a two-week supply of prescription drugs. 90% of ages 18-34 lack the needed supply of prescription drugs
    • Greater than 60% of those surveyed do not have one gallon of drinking water per person per day to last for one week
    • 80% do not have an emergency cash supply
  • 30-50% of the Texas Gulf Coast general population will not leave until a mandatory evacuation is ordered
  • 16% of seniors and minorities on the Texas Gulf Coast will stay for the duration of a storm regardless of a mandatory evacuation order
  • 15-25% of minorities on the Texas Gulf Coast need evacuation assistance beyond family or friends, yet more than 50% of those are not registered with 2-1-1 special needs registry

SOURCE CPL Retail Energy


Source: newswire



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