Central Texas weather: City officials, plumbers prepare for wintry weather

City officials and plumbers are preparing for the coming winter weather and sharing tips on how to be prepared.

Officials said being prepared and staying prepared are important. When the temperatures drop, think people, pets, plants, and pipes.

Freezing temperatures brings the possibility of pipes bursting in your home. James Farr with Champion AC and Plumbing said there are a few things you can do to help prevent it from happening.

Farr said if your electricity stays on, keep the house warm.

"Try to keep the thermostat above 55, 60 in these cold conditions, you want to try to keep air flow running through the homes," Farr said.

He said open your cabinets to allow warm air to get to your pipes. If any pipes are exposed outside, cover them.

"I’ve seen some interesting ways of people putting those Whataburger cups over them, even if you just wrap a towel over it and put that over it, just to stop it from being exposed to the elements," Farr said.

Farr said drip your faucets both hot and cold. 

"It’s imperative to try to keep water flowing through that system. I always use the expression it’s easy to freeze a pond, but it’s very hard to freeze a river," Farr said.

He said if the water does freeze in the pipes, there’s not much you can do until the ground temperature warms up.

"Usually when we start seeing leaks is when the ground starts thawing out," Farr said.

Farr said if you notice water leaking, shutoff the water main valve. For most homes, it’s on the side of the water meter at the meter box. Then, call a professional.

"We’re in demand for sure. There’s only a certain amount of plumbers to the amount of homes we have to serve," Farr said. "We will be working long hours to make sure we can make it around to as many people as we can."

Austin-Travis County EMS said they’re prepared too with additional units and 24-hour community health paramedics.

"If there’s high acuity calls that happen, they can act as regular extra response unit for those calls, and they can also help address needs of either their own clients or persons experiencing homelessness or anybody that may need solutions that don’t involve an emergency room," City of Austin spokesperson Christa Stedman said.

She said stock your home with 7 days of food and water, have plenty of blankets ready, bring animals and plants inside, and stay informed. Stedman said be careful if you choose to heat your home another way.

"We typically see an uptick in carbon-monoxide poisonings during cold snaps where power goes out and people are doing things like bringing their grills inside to heat their home. That’s not safe. Carbon-monoxide is a deadly, silent killer," Stedman said.

If your power does go out, and you need a warm place to stay, the Cold Weather Shelters are open Monday and Tuesday night. If you missed the registration time, call 311. City Parks Facilities and Libraries are open as Warming Shelters during the day. 

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