Hurricane Irma is expected to affect the Tennessee Valley on Monday with periods of heavy rain and gusty winds.

The Channel 3 Storm Alert Team is calling for wind speeds to range from 15-20 miles per hour with tropical force wind gusts ranging from 40-50 miles per hour. Wind gusts are expected to be stronger in North Georgia and on the Cumberland Plateau. The Storm Alert Team expects power outages but encourages the Tennessee Valley to prepare, not panic.

The Channel 3 newsroom is in touch with power providers across North Georgia and in the Chattanooga area who tell Channel 3 they are prepared to respond.

Preparing for a Power Outage

Irma is expected to reach the Tennessee Valley Monday evening into Tuesday morning. There are some things you can do now to prepare for likely power outages.

Several emergency preparedness programs, including the national public service campaign, suggest taking the following steps:

  • Restock an emergency preparedness kit with a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  • Have alternative charging methods ready for your phone.
  • Charge cell phones and any battery power devices now.
  • Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
  • Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during temporary outages.
  • Fill up your car’s gas tank. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do not keep the car running in a garage or enclosed space.
  • Have a backup plan for medical devices that are power dependent.

Safety during a Power Outage

  • Use flashlights instead of candles.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will maintain a temperature for about 48 hours.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances ahead of possible power “surges” that can damage computers and other devices.
  • Only use generators away from your home. Never run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

When Power is restored

  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40 degrees and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.