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  • Kylene Jones

8 Important Lessons from Texas: Freak Storm Results in Millions Without Power

February 2021 brought a record-breaking storm to our friends in Texas, making roads impassable and leaving millions without electricity during some of the coldest temperatures on record. Many were completely unprepared for such an event and were cold, hungry, and suffering.

What lessons can we learn from this freak winter storm that blasted Texas in 2021? The recent storm in Texas demonstrates that we must be prepared for just about anything. It makes sense to prepare for your highest risk factors first, but then take a serious look at threats that are not as likely but have huge consequences.

In this post, we will share stories and advice from our Texan friends and share some basic preps that will help you be prepared for the challenges that may be in your future.

Lesson #1 – Prepare for the Unexpected

Texans quickly learned that they are not exempt from freezing temperatures. One woman shared that in her area, temperatures this time of year average in the 80s while they currently were reporting a windchill factor of 10 degrees.

They were completely unprepared without winter coats, boots, hats, or any of the clothing typically worn in the northern states. A box of warm weather emergency clothing might have come in very handy for our warm weather friends.

Now is a good time to complete a new risk evaluation addressing current trends in your area. Is there anything that you should prepare for so that you are not caught unaware like Texas?

Lesson #2 – Knowledge is Power

You may not have all of the supplies that you would like to have, but if you know what to do, you can get a little creative and improvise.

Education is the key to thriving during a crisis. Knowing what to do reduces stress and helps you take better care of your family, and be a little more comfortable. We invite you to join us, on both our website and our YouTube channel, to learn some of the basics that will improve your level of comfort.

Lesson # 3 – Advanced Preparations Make All the Difference

Stock up on critical supplies well in advance of an event. You never really know when disaster will strike, so it makes sense to just make reasonable preps part of your lifestyle.

Today is the perfect day to develop a family emergency plan that can be implemented on a moment’s notice. John is a great example of that. It sounds like his family had prepared a long time in advance, and were ready to implement that plan when it was needed most.

Store Water for Emergencies

Many in Texas found themselves without running water or with a “boil order” to disinfect the water before consumption. Water storage should be a top priority. It is easier than you may think.

Stock Your Pantry with Shelf-Stable Foods

Roads were impassible in Texas, and even if they could make it through, there was little or no food available for purchase in the stores. Keeping your pantry stocked with shelf-stable foods will help you stay well-fed while avoiding the long lines and desperate people.

Our recommendation is that everyone has at least a 3-month supply of shelf-stable foods in their home. That is usually enough food to safely see you through a crisis. At the very least, it will buy you time to come up with another plan.

That may seem overwhelming, but it really is not as difficult as you may imagine.

Emergency Lighting and Communication

Non-electric charging options for cell phones, tablets, or emergency communication devices are a no-brainer. There are many options on the market, but one that we highly recommend is the Hex by HybridLight. This is a Bluetooth speaker that you can use every day, but it also can charge your mobile device (Micro USB and USB ports), has a flashlight, and is also an FM radio.

The Camping Lantern is also a great option to light a room. Many of these devices can be recharged through a Micro USB port if you have electricity or through the solar panel. Simply place it in a sunny spot (we like to set it on a south-facing windowsill). Typically, it will recharge in 10 hours of full sun. No batteries to replace.

Fuel Storage

The biggest issue with fuel storage is safety. You do not want to burn down your home, or your neighbor’s home, because you were preparing for a disaster. Storing fuel incorrectly can create a disaster all on its own.

Safe Indoor Cooking Alternatives

Most of us have a way to safely cook outdoors during a power outage. Safely cooking indoors takes a little more thought, research, and planning. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat and precautions must be taken to avoid exposing your family to it.

The safest fuels to use indoors are alcohol, butane, and propane in devices that are rated for indoor use. If you have a woodburning cookstove, you have it made, and can both cook and heat with wood. Unfortunately, that is not an option for many people.

Safe Indoor Heating Options – Passive and Active

There are two important aspects of emergency heating. Passive heating, which does not require any fuel, uses methods to stay warm without a heat source. Active heating uses alternative heating devices that produce heat.

Dress Warmly in Layers

This may seem like a no brainer, but dressing for the cold is your first line of defense. Wearing a hat, gloves, neck warmer, leg warmers, socks, shoes, and even a face mask will help to keep you warm. Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing to maintain the ideal temperature.

Store Blankets and Sleeping Bags

You would be amazed how many blankets it takes to stay warm without a working heat source. I store a lot of blankets. BettySue shared a fantastic idea to store your extra blankets under your mattress. That is a brilliant idea to keep them handy without taking up extra room.

Expedient Insulation

The goal is to keep the cold out and the heat in. Evaluate your home. How can you increase the insulation? Close blinds, curtains, and drapes. Can you increase that insulation with plastic sheeting, bubble wrap, cardboard, or blankets?

Do you have cold entry points that may need to be sealed up with painter’s tape or stuffed with paper towels or something to block that air? Perhaps close off all of the rooms on the exterior of the home and stay in a central location.

Create a Microenvironment

One of the best ideas is to set up a tent in the living room. This creates a microenvironment that will keep you much warmer.

You could use a large cardboard box, throw a blanket over the kitchen table, or create some type of makeshift tent. You may want to put a mattress or a layer of blankets in the bottom of the tent to prevent cold from coming up from the floor.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can create a lot of damage. Leave water dripping in a small stream to keep the water moving and prevent it from freezing. If you cannot, you may want to turn the water off to your home and drain your pipes.

Active Heating Options

Your absolute best option is to prepare in advance and install a woodburning stove or perhaps a propane heater that is vented to the outside. Unfortunately, that is not always an option. Be prepared with a backup plan.

Carbon monoxide is your enemy. Purchase a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout. Remember that any open flame has the potential to produce carbon monoxide. A working fire extinguisher is also a great idea. Monitor the levels of carbon monoxide and take immediate action if there is any indication of the presence of CO.

Backup Power for Medical Equipment or Comfort

A backup battery bank can be charged using household power when available, and can be recharged using solar panels. These little battery banks are a great option for running critical medical equipment safely inside of your home.

Generators are a good option, but must be used with extreme care due to the risk of carbon monoxide. Keep them outside and away from any opening where carbon monoxide could seep into the home. The trick is to have enough fuel safely stored to outlast the event.

Lesson #4 – Last Minute Preps

Take advantage of any advanced warning that you may have to check your preps and get everything in order. If you know a storm is coming, gather your emergency supplies and purchase what you may be missing. Remember, you will be fighting the crowds for scarce resources, so it is much better if you just maintain your preps regularly.

This is a good time to secure items outside your home, insulate windows, vacuum, catch up on laundry, and do the dishes. Fill empty containers with water. Check on your neighbors.

Lesson #5 – Duration of Crisis and Aftermath

It would be nice if things could just go back to normal once the storm ended and the power returned. Our friends in Texas will be suffering long after the power is restored. There is damage to roads and infrastructure. Broken pipes and water damage. Missed time at work. Damage to fruit trees, crops and livestock.

Now is a good time to reach out to friends and neighbors. Work together to get your neighborhood restored. Restock your supplies as soon as possible.

Lesson #6 – Build Self-Reliance

A valuable lesson that we can all learn from Texan friends, is that it is up to each of us to become self-reliant and take care of our own needs. No one is going to rush in and make sure that you are comfortable. If you want to be warm, you need to prepare to make that happen. If you want to be able to eat or drink, you need to stock your pantry and store water.

Lesson #7 – Take Care of Each Other

Sacrifice to make sure that others are safe and sound. Host other families, like our friend Brian and his wife did. Reach out to make sure that your family, friends, and neighbors are okay. Share your warmth. Working together, we can make it through whatever storm may hit!

Lesson #8 – Eventually, the Weather Clears and Power Returns

There is hope for a brighter future, and eventually life will return to normal. Perhaps it will be a new normal. Be sure to critically evaluate the event.

What lessons did you learn? What skills or supplies would have made life easier? What went right? Were you part of the problem or part of the solution? What can you do to be better prepared for future challenges?

Take Away Lessons from a Freak Winter Storm in Sunny Texas

There is great peace in knowing that you are prepared to face the challenges that life may throw your way. There are basic supplies that may be required, but knowledge is the key to success.

Do you know how to stay warm or cook your food safely indoors without electricity? Are you prepared for a power outage in the middle of summer with temperatures that exceed 100 degrees? Do you have enough water stored to meet your basic needs for as long as it takes for water services to be restored?


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