As Hurricane Ian hit landfall in south Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, over 19,000 linemen have been assembled from power utility companies in Florida and at least 30 other states. These workers will risk their lives to help Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, and Tampa Electric Company as they respond to the devastation to Florida’s power grid. Numerous utility companies are part of a coordinated, nationwide network designed to respond to disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and storms that are certain to bring power lines down. This system was mobilized before Hurricane Ian to, hopefully, minimize the problems and time in getting power restored.

The National Weather Service divides hurricanes into five distinct categories referred to as the Saffir-Simpson scale; category four hurricanes have winds from 130 to 156 miles per hour. Trees are quickly snapped or uprooted at that strength, and sturdy framed houses are likely to sustain severe damage, including the loss of roofs and exterior walls. Hundreds of utility poles may be blown down or knocked over by falling or flying trees and debris. The devastation is anticipated to be so widespread that power outages may last weeks or even months, affecting over a million people and rendering areas directly hit by the hurricane uninhabitable for the near future.

While many people have experienced temporary power outages as an inconvenience, power outages on this scale have far-reaching impacts. Critical infrastructure will be affected, inhibiting the ability of both private and public resources to assist those affected by the storm. Everything from healthcare, communications, and emergency services, to transportation, food and fuel supply, and basic utilities like water and sewer will be impacted. It will be a priority for Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Company, and those working with them to get these services back online so that displaced people can obtain suitable shelter, food, and necessary medical attention. 

Responding Utility Linemen Need Protection

Videos of the devastation as the hurricane hit landfall near Cape Coral show transformers exploding, storm surges, destroyed houses, and downed power lines. As linemen are deployed across Florida to get power systems back online as soon as it is safe to enter these zones, one essential tool they will need is a Personal Voltage and Current Detector (PVCD). 

Safeguard Equipment® has already sent out thousands of COMPASS G2 PVCDs to this region of the country to protect these workers from the dangers of being exposed to energized lines and energized objects and surfaces from downed power lines. In this situation, COMPASS G2 stands out from other PVCDs. It is one of only a few detection devices that detect voltage and current.  But more importantly, distinct from every other PVCD on the market, the COMPASS G2 provides workers with directional detection, giving them the power to identify where the threat is located. As these workers wade into the devastation, that capability will be critical.

Hurricane destruction presents its own dangers for these workers, with blocked roads, bad weather, flooded areas, poor visibility, and wreckage everywhere. When navigating these problems, their focus must be on assessing what has happened and what needs to be done. Under these conditions, they need a “sixth sense” to alert them of the added dangers presented by electrical hazards that cannot be seen, heard, or felt. The COMPASS G2 supplies that awareness.

By clipping onto a standard hard hat, COMPASS G2 gives these workers hands-free assistance by alerting them to the presence of danger with both aural and visual signals within easy view and earshot. These workers undertake round-the-clock services to get power back online, working 16-hour shifts. With the COMPASS G2, they can depend on up to 80 hours of uninterrupted battery life to see them through and to keep them safe in some of the most challenging work environments imaginable.

The brave men and women who have responded to Hurricane Ian are a testament to the hardiness and selflessness of the utility industry, whom Floridians and everyone else depend on to keep the lights on and our society functioning. Safeguard Equipment is proud to be part of this effort by protecting these workers so they can come home to their loved ones safely. As storm season encroaches upon all areas of the country, reach out to Safeguard Equipment to provide your response crews with the essential protections of the COMPASS PVCD.