The city of Austin is pushing household preparedness for winter storm emergencies, along with other emergencies and disasters, following the winter weather watch for the Austin area issued by the National Weather Service. The winter weather watch is in effect from 3 a.m. until 9 p.m. Feb 3.
There is a forecast of cold temperatures and possible freezing precipitation or rain. Freezing rain is more dangerous than snow due to potential ice formation on the pavement, according to the NWS.
Residents are urged to keep enough critical resources and supplies at home to be self-sufficient for seven days as a part of the city’s Ready Central Texas campaign.
“Preparing for disasters is an essential activity for everyone,” said Juan Ortiz, director for the city of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in a press release. “We need as many people to prepare as possible so the city of Austin can help those who cannot prepare.”
The city’s preparation plan includes four steps:
- Make a plan. Families are encouraged to create an emergency plan, which includes responsibilities for each family member, designating a safe meeting spot in case of separation, and how to stay informed and in contact with one another. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a family emergency plan template for reference.
- Build a kit. Keep supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit. Be sure there is enough supplies in the kit for everyone for seven days. Also, include pets’ needs when assembling emergency kits.
- Know your neighbors. The city stresses that neighbors helping neighbors is critical in increasing Austin’s overall disaster preparedness.
- Stay informed. Know where to get reliable, credible community information and updates in an emergency. There is a Ready Central Texas phone app available for download for both iPhone and Android.
Austin Public Works and the Austin Transportation Department encourage residents who must travel during the winter weather watch to follow these steps:
- Drive slow.
- Avoid bridges and overpasses.
- Allow more time at stoplights.
- Do not text while driving.
- Be watchful of pedestrians, cyclists and other exposed individuals.
- Avoid sudden braking and accelerating.
- Increase following distance to five to six seconds.
- Be cautious when traveling on sidewalks as they can become slick with freezing participation, which is often difficult to see.
The city of Austin, the Austin Transportation Department and other public safety agencies will post updates and important information on social media channels in case of an emergency. The NWS will provide weather updates.
Emergency preparedness resources:
- Cold weather tips from Austin Water
- Power outage safety tips from Austin Energy
- Flood safety resources
- Resources for minor home repairs
- Small-business preparedness resources