Blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain, ice, and freezing temperatures occasionally hit hard in parts of Texas. According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, even if you think you are safe and warm at home, a winter storm can become dangerous if the power goes off. With a little planning, you can protect yourself and your family and keep your property losses to a minimum.
Learn what the National Weather Service winter weather advisories mean:
• Winter weather advisory—severe weather conditions exist;• Winter storm watch—severe winter weather conditions may affect your area;
• Winter storm warning—severe winter weather conditions are imminent;
• Freezing rain or freezing drizzle—rain or drizzle is likely to freeze upon impact, resulting in a coating of ice glaze on roads and all other exposed objects;
• Sleet—small particles of ice, usually mixed with rain;
• Blizzard warning—sustained wind speeds of at least 35 miles per hour are accompanied by considerable falling and/or blowing snow;
• Wind chill—strong wind combined with a temperature below freezing can have the same chilling effect as a temperature nearly50 degrees lower in a calm atmosphere. Have emergency supplies in a portable kit:
• flashlight, portable battery-operated radio, and extra batteries• first-aid kit and manual, and essential medicines (week supply)
• at least three gallons of water per person• protective clothing, bedding, and sturdy shoes
• emergency food that can be prepared without an electric or gas range, and a manual can opener
• an alternate heat source, such as a fireplace, space heater, catalytic camp stove, wood heater, or gas heater
• special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members• written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so Develop emergency communication plan:
• Ideally, you can get the family together when you know severe winter weather is approaching. However, you should select an out-of-town friend or relative for everyone to check in with if family members are in different locations during severe storm. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
• Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors, or employees. If you are isolated at home during the storm, listen to the radio or television for updates on weather conditions. During severe winter storms, your home heating system could be inoperative for several days. To minimize discomfort and possible health problems during this time:
• Conserve body heat by dressing warmly. Layer your clothing. Many layers of thin clothing are warmer than a single layer of thick clothing. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat or cap to prevent body heat loss through the top of the head. If necessary, cover your mouth with scarves to protect your lungs from directly inhaling extremely cold air.
• Improvise with an alternative heat source.
• Confine heating to a single room. Try to select a room on the “warm” side of the house. Close off all rooms except the onto be heated.
• Think safety. Do not burn outdoor barbecue materials, such as charcoal briquettes, inside—even in a fireplace.
• Maintain adequate ventilation to avoid build-up of carbon monoxide when using combustion heating. One person should stay awake to make sure nothing catches fire and that there is adequate ventilation. For more information please visit the Emergency and Disaster Extension Network (EDEN) website from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension or contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org