Winter Weather Preparedness

Severe winter weather can be deadly and we want you to be as prepared as possible for the next major storm that will hit the Austin metro area. Below, you will find ways to be prepared. Please take every suggestion seriously.


The intention of this article:

To ensure you have the soft/hard skills and options for hard resources for when a winter storm arrives. If you can know what to do and have access to canned food, water, heat and power for at least one mobile device – we will consider it a success.


Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Prepare now so you can stay safe during blizzards and other winter storms!

American Red Cross

Protect Your Family

  • Talk with your family about what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. 
  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded.
    • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil.
    • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep in your vehicle: 
    • A windshield scraper and small broom 
    • A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats 
    • Matches in a waterproof container 
    • A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna 
    • An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Keep a supply of non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season and maintain it in good working order.
  • Keep handy a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, water-resistant boots, and extra blankets and warm clothing for everyone in your household.

Protect Your Home

  • Learn how to protect pipes from freezing.
  • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
  • Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood- or coal-burning stove or an electric or kerosene heater (if permitted by law in your area). Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions for safe installation and use.
  • Consider storing sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off. Be cautious of fire hazards when storing any type of fuel.
  • If you have a fireplace, consider keeping a supply of firewood or coal. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order and that you dispose of ashes safely.
  • Consider installing a portable generator, following our safety tips to avoid home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance, if you live in a flood-prone area, to cover possible flood damage that may occur during the spring thaw. Homeowners’ policies do not cover damage from floods. 
    • Ask your insurance agent about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) if you are at risk. More information on NFIP is available at www.fema.gov/nfip.

Alternative Power Options

Remember, when your power goes out keeping your phone and small heater charged can be life-saving action. No alternative power source is too small for a dire and chilly situation like a winter storm.

330W Portable Power Station – $259

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 240, 240Wh Backup Lithium Battery – $200

88Wh Portable Power Station, 24000mAh Camping Solar Generators Lithium Battery – $76

Powermate P0081300 Gas Generator 4500 Watt – $580

PowerSmart Generator, 4400W Open Frame Inverter Generator – $540

Alternative Heat Options

Portable Electric Space Heater for indoor use – $24

PELONIS PHTA2ABB Space Heater – $50

Utility ‘Milkhouse’ Style Electric Heater – $40

Mr. Heater F232017 MH9BXRV Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Radiant Heater – $100


Canned Food (in bulk with home delivery)

Bargain Wholesale

Amazon

Warehouse 115

Boxed


Water (filtration)

“I was wondering if it is safe to put snow in water filtration and then just wait until it melts down if the temperature is right. Of course, carefully picked, clean looking snow.”

Yes, though it’s more common to melt snow and boil it before ingesting (outdoors.com)

The suggestion is to boil it if you can, however. If you plan to use a Brita filter for your snow please filter it 3 times or more before drinking it. Also, make sure to select the cleanest snow possible. This can be accomplished by setting out a clean bucket or catcher as if you would if you were capturing rain water, to capture snow straight from the sky and not from the ground. But boiling is suggested over any other method.

Brita Standard Metro Water Filter Pitcher, Small 5 Cup – $18 (for snow filtration)

Brita Extra Large 18 Cup Filtered Water Dispenser with 1 Longlast+ Filter, Made without BPA – $42 (for snow filtration)

Water (bulk)

“How long can you store bottled water?”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the bottled water industry, does not require a shelf life for bottled water. Bottled water can be used indefinitely if stored properly, but we recommend no more than two years for non-carbonated water, and one year for sparkling water. (nestle-watersna.com)

Buy It By the Case – $30-$1,000

Sam’s Club – $4-$400 (membership required)

Bargain Wholesale – $9-$250

Distillata – $180-$600

Step-by-Step Guide to Storing Bottled Water

  1. Store in a cool, dark place away from products with strong odors
  2. Rotate product on a regular basis 
  3. Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight
  4. If storing outside, use a tent/cover to protect products from direct exposure and to shield the bottled water from the outside elements (excessive heat, rain and snow) (1)

If You Do Nothing Else, Do This

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if you lose power or heat and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.
  • Check emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order.
  • Bring your companion animals inside and ensure that your horses and livestock have blankets if appropriate and unimpeded access to shelter, food, and non-frozen water.

Community Impact Newsletter December 2021

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)

America the Violent | SARC

In the wake of mass shootings, Americans are regularly told that these atrocities do not happen in other developed countries. This, we are to believe, is the damnable result of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

Austin has decided to launch an experiment with Universal Basic Income (UBI) in partnership with the nonprofit UpTogether. The program, when implemented, will send $1000 per month to 85 low-income individuals in the city.