The City of Austin admitted in a report that it was unprepared for the deadly winter storm that killed hundreds of Texans earlier this year. "The city did not adequately anticipate or plan for a widespread or severe winter storm. While the storm was exceptionally severe, the city's lack of preparedness for Winter Storm Uri led to a less effective and disorganized response."
As mentioned in the report, which is publicly available online, the city of Austin didn't communicate effectively with residents in the days leading up to the winter storm. Many people didn't know how to stay safe during the winter storm. And as a result, hundreds of Texans sadly lost their lives.
Knowing how to prepare for a winter storm in Texas can save lives. Below are several things you can do right now to prepare for a winter storm. Hopefully, they'll help you to stay safe during dangerous weather conditions.
Prepare your home for cold weather.
In the winter storm earlier this year, many Texans brought charcoal grills inside or ran cars in enclosed spaces - unknowingly exposing themselves to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. According to reports published by The Texas Tribune, more than 1,400 people sought care at emergency rooms for carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter storm. And sadly, several people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Texas during the winter storm.
According to FEMA (a government agency), you should install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. You can purchase them from Home Depot, Walmart, and several other stores. The batteries should be replaced every few months (or whenever they run out). You should also avoid running your vehicle indoors. "Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open," per the CDC. "Always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car or truck inside."
Build an emergency supply kit.
Grab a plastic container or a backpack to store your items. An emergency supply kit is designed to contain everything you and your family will need if you're forced to stay inside for several days due to adverse weather conditions. According to the CDC, your supply kit should include:
- 3-day water supply of bottled water
- 3-day supply of non-perishable food
- Manual can opener
- First aid kit
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Local maps
- Sleeping bags or warm blankets for everyone in your family
- Cell phone and charging cables
- A portable charger for your cellphone and other devices
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Gloves, mittens, snow boots, and other winter clothes
- Cash in case ATMs become inoperable due to power outages
- Copies of important documents such as passports and medical insurance policies
- Emergency contact information
- A two-week supply of prescription medicines, including medicine name, dose, pharmacy name and number, and doctor's name and number
- Non-prescription medicines, such as pain relievers
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