Cold weather is due this week, reminding many Texans of last year’s storm which caused power outages across the state, damage to many homes and the loss of over 200 North Texans.
The National Weather Service issued a warning for North Texas as freezing rain and snow is expected Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Farmersville City Manager Ben White said they have been preparing for another storm after having learned lessons from the winter storm last year.
“Although we did okay last time, there are a couple systems on the water side that we improved/hardened against the effect of severe cold,” he said. “We have also changed procedures related to diesel fuel placed in our backup generators.”
White said for the past week, “our departments have prepared specifically for this cold weather snap making sure everything is in place to be ready.”
Checking the weather forecast every 4 hours or so is common, said White, who is hopeful “the ice will be light or nonexistent.”
“If not, the electrical department is ready,” he said. “They have stocked items normally needed during ice storm events to be ready to get customers reconnected.”
The city manager advises customers of the City of Farmersville get connected to the city’s nixle.com emergency broadcast system which is managed by Farmersville Police Chief Mike Sullivan.
“This gives chief the ability to direct public safety information directly to those that are on the system, White said. “Customers should go to nixle.com and enter the 75442 zip code to see the alerts. You can also sign up for mobile phone alerts at the same website.”
According to the North Texas Red Cross it is best to plan before a storm hits. Winter weather poses unique challenges to people faced with bitter cold, snow and ice.
“Cold weather is impacting our area,” said Keith Rhodes, Regional Executive of the American Red Cross of North Texas. “Whether trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the coldest hours, you can follow these steps to keep your home and family safe.”
For residents to heat their home safely, they should consider some of these tips from the Red Cross.
Give heaters plenty of space, and keep children, pets and furniture that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. If residents use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as ceramic tile floor. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
A fire should not be left going in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. Portable space heaters should also be unplugged before going to bed.
Residents should also refrain from relying on a gas stove or oven to heat their home.
The National Weather Service suggested installing storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside. It is also important to repair all roof leaks and cut away branches that could fall on the home or other structure during a storm.
It is important to have the chimney and flue inspected every year, especially if an individual plans to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating.
If using a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater, it is important to install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. It is also important to test the detectors monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
The NWS also recommends keeping a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby and all fuel-burning equipment should be vented outside.
The furnace system and vent should be inspected by a qualified technician each year to ensure they are functioning properly.
Before a storm hits, the NWS recommends residents check weather forecasts frequently and also check their emergency supplies, including emergency food and water supplies, whenever a winter storm or extreme cold is expected.
Freezing pipes also pose a risk to homes if not adequately addressed before the storm starts.
The Red Cross recommends keeping kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around indoor pipes. Residents should also drip cold water through faucets to help prevent a pipe from freezing.
If a home will be left unoccupied, the indoor temperature should be no less than 55 degrees.
In the event a pipe freezes, there are certain measures residents can take to thaw their pipes. Frozen pipes are likely to occur around the exterior of the home or near the foundation.
Residents can apply heat to frozen pipes using objects such as a hair dryer, an electric heating pad or towels soaked with hot water. While thawing a pipe, make sure the faucet remains open so water can flow unobstructed.
Homeowners should also call a licensed plumber in the event a pipe will not thaw in order to avoid more costly damage.
Pets should also be brought indoors during winter weather. If they are unable to be brought inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and give them access to unfrozen water.
If residents must travel, they are encouraged to use extreme caution because roadways will likely freeze. They are also encouraged to check on neighbors, especially those living alone or who are elderly.
Finally, the NWS recommends residents to get the car ready for the storm by checking the vehicle’s antifreeze level, adding fluid as needed.
Windshield-wiper fluid with wintertime mixture and tires should have adequate tread air pressure. The gas tank should be near full to help avoid ice buildup in the tank and fuel lines.
The vehicle should be in good working order and residents should check their heater, defroster, brakes, brake fluid, ignition, emergency flashers, exhaust and battery to ensure they function properly.
For more information, residents can visit https://www.redcross.org/.
Sonia Duggan also contributed to this story.