Three Tips to Help Ellis County Homeowners Prepare for Power Outages Caused by Winter Storms
Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian offers lifesaving tips to help homeowners be prepared for power outages and storm damage resulting from winter storms.
SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian provides water damage and storm damage restoration 24/7, 365 days a year, including holidays. An experienced, trained, and certified crew can be on the scene in about half an hour when a disaster strikes. Winter storm disasters can strike unexpectedly, as was the case in February of 2021. The record-setting cold blast disrupted life, causing stress and worry for many North Texas residents. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian lives and works in this community and experienced the hardship and inconvenience with their neighbors. When neighbors suffered a property damage disaster related to the cold snap, the dedicated SERVPRO team rose to meet the challenges.
Electricity is vitally essential for nearly every home activity, from cleaning to cooking to communication. Most people do not fully realize their dependence on electricity until an outage occurs and the many amenities powered by electricity are suddenly unavailable.
The 2021 cold wave that blasted much of the United States illustrates the need for winter storm preparedness. By far, Texas suffered the worst from the effects of the cold wave. On February 16, the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport noted a record low temperature of −2 °F (−19 °C), the coldest temperatures in North Texas in over 70 years.
The failure to sufficiently winterize power equipment in preparation for the possibility of extended periods of cold weather left the electrical infrastructure vulnerable. The unusually cold temperatures caused widespread power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of North Texas residents. Seventy percent of ERCOT customers lost power. For some residents, power was out for over two weeks. The power grid failure interrupted the flow of water and natural gas. Many residents struggled to stay warm, locate bottled water, and obtain food.
An article in the Texas Tribune cited a study conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. The study sought to accurately assess the impact of the winter storm on the affected population. According to the study, “The storm also endangered Texans in the ERCOT service area indirectly as they struggled to stay warm. Despite the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, a quarter of those who lost power from the main grid used their gas ovens or stove cooktops to stay warm, and 8% turned on a grill or smoker indoors. Nine percent of those who left their homes while trying to escape the cold stayed in their cars.” As many as 4.5 million Texans were left without power at the height of the outage.
While weather conditions are beyond human control, preparation for a winter storm power outage, storm damage, or water damage is not. Every homeowner or business owner can make preparations that will help to weather a winter storm and manage the storm damage.
Tip #1: Begin winter storm preparations immediately.
A power outage at any time of the year is inconvenient and can have serious consequences. A winter power outage can be hazardous, especially when temperatures are at or below 0 °F and the home has no alternative heat source, such as a fireplace, ventless gas heater, or wood stove. Snow, sleet, or ice can hinder or prevent safe travel, making last-minute preparations impossible. Clogged highways, long lines, empty shelves, and hot tempers further complicate last-minute preparations. Insulating exposed pipes and exterior faucets is a task that should be at the top of the list.
Tip #2: Stock up on flashlight supplies.
Replenish the supply of batteries and flashlights. The stockpile of batteries is constantly being depleted and needs to be regularly replenished. A top brand alkaline battery has a shelf life of from five to ten years. Make sure the stockpile includes batteries for flashlights, emergency radios, smoke detectors, and clocks. Keep rechargeable batteries fully charged.
Make the transition to LED flashlights. An LED flashlight powered by 3 AAA batteries will last from 18-24 hours, many times longer than the traditional flashlight. The LED device is smaller, lighter, and burns brighter longer. While checking the battery supply and flashlights, inspect the emergency radio and consider purchasing a backup radio. Information and light in the darkness of a winter storm power outage can prove to be a lifesaver.
Tip #3: Fill up the gas tank.
When the power outage occurred in February of 2021, one in twelve residents affected by the power outage sought refuge in their car to stay warm. If weather reports predict hazardous weather conditions, fill up all the family vehicles.
SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian has been serving the area since 2000. The company is locally owned and backed by a nationwide system of qualified franchises. Because SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian is centrally located in Ellis County, the team is within a thirty-minute drive or less of any location in the community. The restoration experts specialize in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.