by Westley Dorton
After winter storm Uri planted itself over Texas, we all were caught a little off guard. Now, we all know that natural disasters are a part of life here in Texas. However, if you are like some local residents, you may have found yourself completely in the dark – literally and figuratively – during the storm. Here at Local Life, we have been in touch with local experts and authorities about what they would recommend for our residents in preparation for possible bad weather. Here are some of their recommendations. They should be common practice in all natural disasters.
- Make sure you have a 3-day supply of water (defined as 3 gallons per person) on hand.
- Make a basket of non-perishable items – for example, canned beans, canned meat, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars.
- Purchase a supply of flashlights (with batteries), battery-operated radio and candles.
- Make sure you have fire extinguishers in your home. Ensure that everyone in your household knows how to operate them.
- Charge your cell phones and other electronics and have backup battery packs.
- Create an emergency contact list that is printed with the phone numbers of important family members.
- Before the storm hits, be sure to fill all vehicles with gas.
- Have a first aid kit that is easy to access.
- Have an emergency supply of cash in your possession.
- Have a plan ready for your family of where to go and what to do if you need to take shelter.
Winter storms, due to the harsh temperatures in concert with the grueling snow/ice mixtures, can be tricky to navigate. For warmer climates like Texas, winter storms can be much more devastating, as we all are painfully aware of now. Texas is not built to handle strong winter storms, although the people definitely are! Here is an itemized list of what our experts and local authorities said about preparing for winter storms:
PREPARATIONS FOR THE STORM
- Clean and inspect your chimney if you have one. Make sure you have a large supply of wood or gas for the fireplace
- Make sure you have an ample supply of blankets. If your home’s power goes out, you will need as many as you can get!
- Have rock salt or sand on hand to help your driveway and sidewalks resist the ice and snow.
- Install or update the carbon monoxide alarms in your home. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases sharply during winter storms as people turn to alternate heat sources.
- Check antifreeze levels in all vehicles.
- Make sure you know how to shut off your main water valve in case your pipes burst.
- Make sure you and your loved ones know how to manually operate your electric garage door.
- Make sure all hoses outside are disconnected and you have covered the faucet.
- Consider purchasing a good supply of heating packs.
DURING THE STORM
- If temperatures are extremely low, barely turn on a few faucets so that the water is slowly dripping. This is especially for the ones that are next to an exterior wall.
- Open the kitchen and sink cabinets to allow warmer water to circulate around the pipes.
- Stay dry! Change your clothes immediately if you get wet.
- Use flashlights before candles to avoid the risk of house fire.
- If your pipes freeze, warm them with a hairdryer. If you do not have power, wrap them in rags.
- Use WD-40 on your snow shovel to make shoveling easier.
- If the power goes out, put towels at the bottoms of doors that have gaps and cover single-paned or drafty windows with blankets. Keep doors to unneeded rooms closed.
- Have your entire family get in the same bed, if possible, to share warmth. Grab some books and stay under the covers as much as possible! Don’t let the heat out!
- If power outages are expected for longer periods of time, put frozen foods outside and refrigerated food in the garage. These will likely be colder than your fridge (without power) after a day or so.
- Unplug any important electrical equipment to avoid a surge when power is restored.
- Bring all animals inside when temps start to drop.
While we recognize that storms to the degree of winter storm Uri are rare here in Texas, if February is any indication, we must be prepared for anything and everything – especially with the way 2020 and 2021 have gone! In order to help our local residents have access to relevant safety information about all forms of natural disasters, we are keeping both of these lists available on our website all year round! Stay safe and prepared, Texans!