Stay Warm, Houston

No relief from the frigid, wintery weather is coming soon, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures could rise to 32 degrees in southern portions of the Houston area, but the thermometer could remain in the upper 20s, too. With the hard freeze and winter storm warnings in place for the Houston area through Tuesday, many of us could be without power at times. The cold weather makes an impact on our electricity usage and can make it unpredictable. We are using more energy to stay warm and at the same time the icy blast is damaging our electrical grid. This means that more than 1 million Texans are without power for hours. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it expects outages to last until the weather emergency ends. If we all prepare a little, we can make the cold weather and power outages bearable, according to the Houston Chronicle, 

What to do when your power goes out

Pump jacks operate in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas, U.S, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The arctic freeze gripping the central U.S. is raising the specter of power outages in Texas and ratcheting up pressure on energy prices already trading at unprecedented levels. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

Matthew Busch / Bloomberg

Texas is reaching freezing temperatures and with the grid becoming overwhelmed many people are losing power. Here is what you need to know in case of an outage:

How do I stay warm?

Make sure to keep all doors to the outside shut, and use towels to block drafts coming in from window and door cracks.

You can also insulate windows with black or dark blankets. The black draws heat from the sun. If the sun’s beams are coming through the window, put the blankets on the floor where the sun is directly shining instead.

How do I safely heat my house?

You can use space heaters, but where you place them is key. Fire Chief Samuel Peña urged people to keep space heaters clear of other objects, especially combustible ones.

Those enduring outages may be tempted to blast gas-powered ovens and stoves to keep warm, but that is dangerous because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning, he said. “Carbon monoxide is tasteless and it is odorless and it is deadly.”

To that point, Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said some may be tempted to run their cars for warmth, but be sure not to do that in an enclosed garage, which also creates a carbon monoxide hazard.

“Do you not start your cars or run your vehicles in your garage,” she said.

How long can I keep food in my fridge?

Your refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 4 hours during a power outage, according to the USDA. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers after 4 hours without power.

It’s important to never taste food to determine its safety after a power outage. If you have any doubt about whether something is safe to eat, you should throw it out, the U.S. Department of Agrculture advises.

Can I use my gas stove?

Gas ovens after 1990 cannot be lit without power supplied to it, according to General Electric Appliances.

For many stove tops, you can light the surface burners with a match on your electric ignition gas or dual fuel range or gas cooktop. Hold a lighted match to the burner, then turn the knob to the low position. Use extreme caution when lighting the burners this way, according to General Electric Appliances.

Can I leave the house?

That’s probably not a good idea. Texas Division of Emergency Management tweeted out to “shelter in place and avoid traveling in any manner.” Similarly, Texas Department of Public Safety said it’s “downright dangerous to drive in these conditions, please don’t.”

Other public officials have echoed this sentiment: “If you lose power you’re safest at home,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a Sunday press conference. “Wear layers; stay warm. But please don’t go outside if you lose power.”

About Abacus

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