What Can You do to Get Ready for Cold Weather in Houston?
The last couple of years has been quite a learning experience for me, both as a resident of Houston and also as a business owner/designer. After living in an area for more than 30 years with nothing other than power outages, some street flooding, and occasional downed trees, Hurricane Ike arrived in September, and then came the rains of April (which is an entire blog I have for another day!) and now this… late in the season artic COLD front!
Houston is not well adjusted for harsh and extreme cold fronts. Just like today, the temperatures may plummet quickly, and it is important to be prepared ahead of time. Extreme cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia or trigger respiratory problems. It is safest to remain indoors until the conditions improve although at times the harsh weather changes can bring about power outages and other unexpected problems. There were rolling blackouts and many power outages which caused many businesses and schools to close. The freezing rain, sleet and snow warnings have also closed down the schools and some businesses as well. Here are some proactive steps that will ensure that your home and/or business remains safe from harsh winter weather…
- Stock your home/business with essential items. These include food, water and medication. Keep enough to sustain yourself and your family and pets for a few days in case you are not able to leave your home. The best choices are ready-to-eat products such as cereal, crackers, peanut butter or other foods that do not require preparation. Buy a manual can opener so that you can eat canned food.
- Buy rock salt and sand to melt ice on your porch, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots. Purchase a study snow shovel and keep it accessible.
- Winterize your interior space to keep as much heat from escaping as possible. Cover your windows with plastic or newspaper, caulk around the windowsills and in any cracks in the walls or floors. Turn off any external water faucets by closing off the valve closest to the inside of your home. These may be in the basement or crawlspace. Drain the water to prevent it from freezing and bursting your pipes.
- Get extra firewood or other heating fuel and batteries. Stock up on blankets and warm clothing (hats, gloves/mittens, scarves and coats) in case you lose electricity. Keep candles and matches nearby.
- Prep your home and/or business by changing the filters on your central heating system and check for any leaks. If you suspect any leaky ducts, call a heating contractor to check out it out. Caulk all gaps/joints in your exterior siding and trim. Also you can caulk and add weatherstriping around the windows and exterior doors to prevent cold air from seeping in and warm air from escaping.
- Place outlet covers over your outlets to prevent cold air from seeping in. They are very cheap and can be found in the baby supply area of most stores such as Babies’r’us, Target, etc. You could also probably find them in the infant section at your local drug store.
- If you have a fire place or wood burning oven, stock up on some firewood in for those days and nights you prefer to heat your home with a nice toasty fire or in case the power goes out from a winter storm.
- Keep the doors to different rooms in the house closed so that those rooms can retain their heat, keeping you cozy and warm all winter long.
- Purchase warm sleep attire so you can stay warm at night without having to crank the thermostat. “Cranking” the thermostats all over Houston was one of the reasons for the power outages–
Good luck and stay warm!!!