Hey, fellow Texans. You might have heard about the cold weather that’s in the forecast for this week, and you know what that means — meat and toilet paper will be flying off the shelves of your neighborhood grocery store faster than you can say “winter storm.”
But we’ll let you in on a little secret — if we found ourselves in the same situation we were in last winter (and rest assured THIS IS NOT a repeat of that event), a stash of enough teepee to hang from the trees of all your enemies’ houses isn’t going to be your saving grace.
We’ve compiled a list of what you really need to do, and have on hand, in case of a severe winter event. So put one of those pork roasts back on the shelf and scratch these items off your Texan to-do list:
Sign up for alerts
Now is an opportune time to register your cell phone number and/or email address with Warn Central Texas to receive emergency alerts from local officials by text, phone and/or email. The program is available in Williamson County and surrounding counties through the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG). Register today at warncentraltexas.org.
Remember winter weather basics
As always, the City of Round Rock reminds residents to follow the four “P’s” of winter weather safety:
- PEOPLE: Keep your family warm and check on any elderly family or neighbors that may need extra blankets, help winterizing their homes or a warm place to stay.
- PETS: Dogs and cats get cold too. Bring them inside at night to keep them healthy and safe.
- PLANTS: Either cover plants to keep them warm at night or bring them inside so they can flourish.
- PIPES: Cover exposed pipes to prevent freezing and breaks. Check out our comprehensive blog on creating a Winter Ready Water System in your home that prevents your pipes from freezing and breaking in winter weather.
Get familiar weather vehicle safety
Always keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. These items could literally save your life in the case you encounter winter weather on the road:
- Blankets/sleeping bags and extra clothing, mittens and hat
- Cell phone, radio, flashlight, extra batteries
- First-aid kit and pocket knife
- High calorie, non-perishable food, bottled water
- Sack of sand or cat litter for de-icing roadway
- Windshield scraper
- Tool kit, booster cables and shovel
- Emergency flares
- If you are bringing your pet with you, make sure to include pet food and supplies
Don’t forget to check local media for up-to-date information before getting on the roads. You can also monitor road conditions by visiting drivetexas.org or calling 1-800-452-9292. If icy conditions materialize during , non-essential travel is discouraged. If you must travel, drive slowly and increase your stopping distance. Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power fails, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
Know how to report and get updates on power outages
Oncor is the electricity provider in the City of Round Rock. Report power outages through Oncor’s Storm Center website, by calling 888-313-4747 or texting OUT to 66267 if you have registered for My Oncor Alerts. To register for My Oncor Alerts, text REG to 66267. You will receive proactive power outage notifications and status updates all from your phone. (You can also select your contact preferences – email, text or voice alert).
Check your winter emergency supplies
Make sure you have the following basic emergency supplies on hand in preparation for a winter weather event:
- First aid kit
- Battery-operated radio, NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries or hand crank radio, cell phones and chargers
- Seven-day supply of prescription medications, copies of prescriptions, special medical items, hearing aids and batteries, eyeglasses
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Supplies for babies, the elderly, family members with special health care needs, and food and supplies for pets
- Manual can opener, knife, tools, fire extinguisher, duct tape, tarp, rope
- Solar chargers or power banks for items that rely on electricity
Stock your pantry with the important stuff
In the case of a prolonged power outage, it’s best to have a one-week stash of canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Here are some ideas for practical items you can keep in your pantry:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a manual can opener
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit or fruit snacks
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- Food and formula for infants
- One gallon of bottled water per person per day (for one week’s supply, that’s 7 gallons per person)
If your power goes out, alternative cooking sources that can be used in times of emergency include candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace. Never use charcoal grills and camp stoves indoors due to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
For additional information and tips on preparing for winter weather, visit ready.gov/winter-weather.