Millions of customers across the US have lost power, with much of those outages occurring in Texas. Power outages can be dangerous for those unprepared for such intense winter chill.
If you’re among the Texans whose power has gone out or will go out at some point this week, here’s what you need to know to stay warm and safe this week.
Take stock of the essentials
- Extra food and water: A three- to seven-day supply is a good standard
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio
- Extra medicine
- First-aid supplies
If you need to make a trip outside, keep it as brief as you can, and layer up, the CDC says. Check with your local emergency authorities to make sure it’s safe to drive or travel in the cold.
The CDC recommends warming up with extra blankets, sleeping bags and winter coats.
It’s not safe, though, to keep blankets and other flammable materials near alternate sources of warmth like a portable space heater. Keep the heaters in an area clear of flammable fabrics.
If you’re using a fireplace, first make sure it’s properly vented to the outside and won’t leak gas into your home. You should keep it stocked with dry firewood — not paper, the CDC says — throughout the power outage.
To keep in heat, close blinds and curtains and shut doors to rooms to avoid “wasting heat,” the National Weather Service recommends. Stuffing towels in the cracks under doors can keep some of the chill out of your home, and eating and drinking throughout the power outage will help keep your body warm.
Keep your food & water supply safe
Fill coolers with ice, if necessary, to keep food from spoiling.
Be careful of carbon monoxide
Generators can release poisonous carbon monoxide if you use them inside your home. If you’re using one this week, keep it outside, about 20 feet away from your home, the CDC advises.
If it’s safe, go somewhere warm
If it’s safe for you to travel to a shelter, be sure to wear a mask or layer two masks and bring extras in case your stay is extended. These locations should be well-ventilated, though social distancing is still advised, according to Ready.gov.
Know the signs of hypothermia
If you fear someone in your household has hypothermia, call for medical help. If they can’t immediately arrive, try to warm them up yourself with blankets, food and water and an alternate heat source.
Conserve power if you still have it
Start by turning off and unplugging nonessential lights and appliances, and don’t use large appliances like ovens or washing machines if you can avoid it, the Houston Office of Emergency Management suggests.
Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower — if too many people crank up the heat, the demand could trigger another blackout.
During the day, if it’s sunny, open your blinds so the sun can heat your home, but close them at night to prevent losing heat.
Check on your loved ones
When safe to do so, check in with the people around you to make sure they’re OK.
Those who have medical equipment that require power, like respirators, should be taken to locations with generators or a friend’s or neighbor’s home that hasn’t been impacted.
Keep your pets warm
If you’re walking your dog (though outdoor activity should be brief), consider wrapping them up in a sweater or coat — pets can get hypothermia, too.
Look on your pet’s paws for rock salt or other chemicals used to melt ice. Those chemicals can irritate your pet’s feet, so wipe them down with a warm, damp towel upon returning home.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.
Source: CNN – US News