County urges citizens to prepare for winter weather

Forecasts for the upcoming winter in the Texas Hill Country calls for warmer, drier weather, but residents are urged to make their preparations now – just in case.

“Just like this year, last year was a La Nina year, too, meaning a warmer and drier winter season than usual. We all remember how that turned!” said Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William B. “Dub” Thomas.

“Now, during mild fall temperatures, is the time to get ready in the event we do experience another winter storm. While we probably won’t get as severe as the rare ice/snow storm we had in February, it’s better to be prepared than get caught trying to wrap pipes as the temperate drops,” he said.

The National Weather Service has issued a helpful checklist and offered tips on what to do to prepare for winter weather.

Home, Office Spaces

In its Winter Weather Season Campaign, NWS officials say that the primary concern at home or in a workplace during a winter storm is the loss of heat, power and telephone service. Plus, a shortage of supplies is also a worry, because you need to make sure you have more than a day’s worth of food and water ready.

Here are some items and ways to make sure you have those places prepared well ahead of any impending storm:

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• Battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information

• Extra food and water, such as dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and other items requiring no cooking or refrigeration

• Extra prescription medicine

• Baby items such as diapers and formula

• First-aid supplies

• Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach your location for days after a winter storm

• Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heather properly ventilated to prevent a fire

• Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm (test smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work properly)

• Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets

• Review generator safety if you have one. Be sure to never run a generator in an enclosed space

• A working carbon monoxide detector. Make sure the outside vent is clear of leaves and debris. (During or after a winter storm, make sure the vent is clear from snow or ice)

Vehicles

Each year, on average, more than 5,000 people die and more than 418,000 are injured due to weather-related crashes. Stay at home during a winter storm. And, if the temperature is near freezing, then drive like on ice – because it very well could be icy in some patches. Be aware that black ice is difficult to see.

If planning to travel by car in the winter, make sure to winterize and check your vehicle now. Then, prepare a winter weather travel kit containing the following items, as recommended by the NWS campaign:

• Mobile phone, charger and batteries

• Blankets or sleeping bags

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• First-aid kit

• Knife

• High-calorie, non-perishable food items

• Extra clothing to keep dry

• Large empty can to use as an emergency toilet, plus tissues, toilet paper and paper towels

• Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow or ice for drinking water

• Sack of sand or cat litter for traction under tires

• Shovel

• Windshield scraper and brush

• Tool kit

• Tow rope

• Battery booster cables

• Water container

• Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat

• Compass and road maps. (Don’t depend on mobile devices with limited battery life.)

Protect Pets

Pet owners and ranchers also have a responsibility to prepare for weathering the winter with their furry family friends or livestock. Here’s what the NWS recommends doing just before a winter weather storm:

• Move animals to sheltered areas or bring pets inside. Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented are better protection than confining shelters, such as sheds

• Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas

• Have water available. Most animals die from dehydration in winter storms

• Make sure pets have plenty of food and water, as well as a warm shelter

For more tips on how to prepare for winter, visit the National Weather Service at https://www.weather.gov/safety/winter-before.

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