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How to prepare your home for freezing temperatures, power outages

Even when the weather isn't expected to be severe, it's still important to know what to do if the forecast changes.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin weather can be unpredictable, and it's important to be prepared for the unexpected.

While we sometimes see warmer days during the winter, cold weather is often just around the corner, including this week.

It's important to note that we aren't expecting anything near the type of weather we saw in February 2021. But we are expecting a big drop in temperatures and the chance for freezing rain and icing issues.

Even when severe weather isn't expected, it never hurts to brush up on what you should do if conditions worsen.

Here’s a list of steps to take to prepare for freezing temperatures and power outages.

Find your water shutoff

According to Austin Water’s website, everyone should know where the water main shutoff valve is in their residence. It should also always be easily accessible.

Your property inspection report will say if there is a valve inside your home. There is also a City shutoff valve in every home’s meter box. To access that, you may need a meter key. They are available at hardware stores.

Keep cold air out of the house

Austin Water says to close all doors and windows, including the garage door. If some windows or doors are broken, repair them now. The agency also recommends sealing leaks in crawl spaces and basements to prepare for colder temperatures.

Outdoor faucets 

In preparation for freezing temperatures, Austin Water says to turn off outside faucets and automatic sprinkler systems. The agency also says to remove the connected hoses and wrap the faucets with towels.

Protecting indoor faucets

During freezing weather, residents should open the cabinets beneath their sinks to let warm air surround their pipes. 

If you think your pipes might freeze

Austin Water recommends that you only drip cold water from one faucet if it looks like the pipes might freeze. It should be the faucet furthest away from the main shutoff valve.

Austin Water also says to collect the dripping water for use.

In case of a power outage that lasts longer than 24 hours, stop dripping water.

Supplies to always have

  • Water meter key
  • Insulation for indoor and outdoor pipes
  • Hose bib cover for outdoor faucets
  • Battery-powered flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • One gallon of water per person for each day

Leaving before the potential for freezing temperatures? 

If you’re leaving the Austin area before potentially freezing temperatures, Austin Water says to turn off your water meter and set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees.

How to check power grid conditions

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has a dashboard that allows you to monitor real-time grid conditions. 

This dashboard shows a real-time look at supply of power and demand, as well as projected supply and demand, based on forecast. Meanwhile, this dashboard tracks the state of the grid, as well as the state of the operating reserve.

ERCOT also has several other real-time monitors that you can check, including system-wide demand, solar, current prices and more.

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