Jan 20, 2022 - News

Tips to survive an Austin cold snap

An iced over branch hangs in the air.

Tree limbs covered in ice in Austin on Feb. 17, 2021. Photo: Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tonight is Austin's first winter weather test since a devastating storm last February left thousands of residents hungry, desperate and in the dark — and more than two dozen Travis County residents dead.

The big picture: This cold snap will not be nearly as frigid as Winter Storm Uri's freeze, when temps dropped to the single digits, but public officials are not taking any chances.

Austin Energy encourages residents to:

  • Sign up for Emergency Alerts at WarnCentralTexas.org.
  • Assemble a storm preparation kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, snacks, water and other necessities.
  • Keep cell phones charged.
  • If working from home, save your work periodically and make sure your devices are on power strips.
  • Heat your home safely. To avoid injury and illness, never heat your house with a gas oven or burn anything in a stove or a fireplace that is not vented.
  • Keep space heaters away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets. Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water. Do not use extension cords with space heaters.
  • If you see tree limbs on wires or downed limbs, please call 311 to report them.
  • Watch for scams. Scammers target utility customers every day, but storms, holidays and emergencies turn into opportunities for scammers because they know you are distracted. Learn how to recognize a scam.

Customers can also minimize their impact on the electric grid by following these tips to save energy during cold weather:

  • Set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower in the winter. Wear warm, comfortable clothing to help stay warm indoors instead of adjusting the thermostat.
  • If you have a fireplace, use it.
  • Switch the setting on ceiling fans to run clockwise at a low speed. This gentle updraft helps push warm air near the ceiling down into your living space.
  • Save energy in the kitchen. Use a slow cooker or microwave instead of the oven.

And protect your water pipes.

  • Turn off outside faucets and wrap them with towels or a Styrofoam insulator.
  • Protect indoor faucets. Open cabinets beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warmer air to circulate around pipes. Turn a cold-water tap to a drip.

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