10 Tips to Prepare for the Winter Freeze
As Texas braces for a potential freeze, homeowners are advised to prepare to protect their homes and properties. ERCOT's weather watch indicates freezing temperatures could persist for several days. We put together a preparation list so that you and your family stay warm and warm this Central Texas Freeze.
Insulate exterior pipes, These are vulnerable to freezing and should be wrapped to prevent damage. Check for leaks, ensure no taps are dripping to avoid additional strain on water systems. Keep interior piping warm by leaving heaters on and opening cabinet doors, especially if leaving home for an extended period.
Texas Water Utilities asked residents to put a plan in place to avoid freezing and damage to their property ahead of the weather watch issued by ERCOT, and frigid temperatures expected on Monday. If you live in a mobile home or trailer, the risk is even greater as more pipes are exposed, so insulating those are critical.
In cold conditions, it's vital to adjust pet care routines. The Animal Humane Society recommends brief outdoor trips for dogs just for necessary relief, and keeping cats indoors at all times. Ensure your pet's bed is away from cold floors and areas in your home. Also, provide access to food and water that hasn't frozen, keeping them comfortable and hydrated.
Effective home insulation is crucial in maintaining warmth and reducing energy costs during a winter freeze. This includes sealing leaks and drafts around windows and doors, and insulating walls and attics. Consider using weather stripping and caulking to seal air leaks. Insulating pipes, especially those in unheated areas like garages or basements, is also important to prevent freezing. Additionally, using thermal curtains can help retain heat inside your home. Regularly checking and updating insulation can significantly improve your home’s ability to withstand cold temperatures and protect against potential damage.
4. emergency supplies
This includes having a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, and essential medications for all family members. Keep a first-aid kit handy for any minor injuries. Have blankets, warm clothing, and sleeping bags to stay warm in case of a power outage. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio can keep you informed about weather updates. Flashlights and extra batteries are crucial for power outages. Also, consider keeping a portable charger for your mobile devices. These supplies will help ensure your safety and comfort during the freeze.
5. plan to stay home
Consider indoor activities like movie marathons, board games, or starting a new book. It's also a great time for indoor hobbies like baking, crafting, or puzzles. Take the chance to declutter or organize your home. If you're with family, try indoor camping with a makeshift fort, storytelling, or indoor picnics. Remember to keep activities light and enjoyable to make the most of your time indoors during the freeze.
6. carbon monoxide & gutters
Having a functional carbon monoxide detector is crucial during a winter freeze, especially if you're using gas heaters, fireplaces, or generators, as these can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Regularly check and replace batteries in your detector to ensure it's operational.
Clearing gutters and downspouts is also important. This prevents water build-up, which can freeze and cause ice dams, potentially leading to water damage in your home. Regularly removing debris from gutters ensures proper water drainage away from your house's foundation and roofing.
7. alternative heat
Space heaters are a common choice; ensure they're in good condition and placed away from anything flammable, and never leave them unattended. For those with fireplaces, regular maintenance and proper ventilation are key to safe usage. Electric blankets offer added warmth but inspect them for any damage or fraying wires. It's crucial to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms in your home, especially when using these alternative heating methods.
8. Vehicle readiness
This is crucial for safety and mobility. Ensure your car's antifreeze levels are adequate, and the battery is in good condition, as cold weather can impact battery performance. Check your tire tread and consider winter tires for better traction. Keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent fuel line freeze-ups. Equip your vehicle with an emergency kit that includes blankets, extra clothing, food, water, and a first-aid kit. Additionally, have a windshield scraper and de-icing spray ready for icy conditions. Regular maintenance checks become even more important during winter to ensure your vehicle is reliable in harsh weather conditions.
9. community care
Check in on neighbors, friends, & family who may be more vulnerable. Especially elderly neighbors, individuals with disabilities, or those living alone. Offer assistance with winter preparations, such as helping with groceries, snow removal, or insulation tasks. Be ready to share information about local warming centers r emergency services if needed. Fostering a sense of community support can make a significant difference in ensuring everyone's safety and well-being during challenging winter conditions.
10. stay informed
Regularly check local weather forecasts through TV, radio, or online weather services. Sign up for local emergency notification systems which can provide real-time alerts via phone or email. Follow trusted social media accounts, like those of local government and weather agencies, for updates. Downloading weather apps on your smartphone can also be useful for receiving timely alerts. Staying informed helps you make necessary preparations and decisions during severe weather conditions.