Don’t wait for an emergency or power outage; make a family emergency plan now. If you have medical equipment that requires electricity or medicines that need refrigeration, check with your doctor when making your plan.
Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know whichtypes of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.Discuss as a family and ensure everyone knows and understands how you will reconnect. You can find more plan ideas atready.gov/plan.
In Collin County you can register with the County Emergency Management, Citizen Alert Notification and receive important notifications for weather, fires and other issues as well as note any special needs in your household. This special needs information is used during an emergency by the County to do 'well-being checks' and ensure that you are okay. You can also receive weather alerts at Signup For ONCOR Alerts. If you're not a Collin County resident check with your local county Emergency Management and see how they address special needs of citizens.
Create an Emergency Kit for your family. Be sure to include in your emergency kit flashlights and spare batteries, candles (for light and warmth), water, medicines, canned or 'shelf-stable' that don’t require refrigeration or cooking.Ready.gov/kitis a good source for emergency kit information and supply lists. Be sure to include your pets: adequate food, water and medicines.
Locate your electrical breaker box, main breaker and individual circuit breakers. If power goes out you may have to check your breakers as an electrical spike may have caused them to trip in which case they need to be resest by turning all the way off and then back on.
Locate your gas and water shutoff valves and know how to use them; some of these, like your main water shutoff is typically at the street in a small vault with a removable cover. Turning the valve requires a special tool you may have to purchase. Shutting off water was extremely important in the last severe winter storm in 2020 when pipes burst and flooded thousands of homes. If the main water supply had been turned off and the faucets opened to allow the water to drain out of the lines many home could have been spared major damage.
Fully charge all electronic devices and auxiliary battery chargers. If power is out use important the stored power sparingly.
Review your property insurance coverage. Collect insurance and other vital documents and store them in a secure, accessible location preferably in a water proof package - ziplock bags work well. Vital records include deed, promissory note on house (to prove ownership), birth certificates, passports, bank account records and statements, last years tax return, marriage license, automobile registration and title. Include a list of important account numbers in your plan. Depending on the size and type of disaster you may have to prove your residenccy in order to return to your property if you are forced to leave.
Review your property insurance coverage. Collect insurance and other vital documents and store them in a secure, accessible location preferably in a water proof package - ziplock bags work well. Vital records include deed, promissory note on house (to prove ownership), birth certificates, passports, bank account records and statements, last years tax return, marriage license, automobile registration and title. Depending on the size and type of disaster you may have to prove your residenccy in order to return to your property if you are forced to leave.
Avoid using a generator during power outages unless you are sure it was installed safely and correctly. Find generator safety tips atGenerator Safety Tips.
Once your plan is complete you should share it with a couple of trusted friends or relatives that are well outside the area, one preferably out-of-state, who have your plan so that in the even of an emergency you can let them know you're activating your plan.
If you have to leave your home (evacuate for any reason) leave a note where you are going and alert the people that have your emergency plan you are evacuating, why, your destination, route and estimated arrival time (ETA). This is important so they can find you and get help to you if you need it.
What To Do During a Winter Storm
Never use a generator, camp stove, charcoal grill, gasoline heater, or propane heater indoors. These items can accidentally start, cause electric shock, and any combustion heater wll produce deadly carbon monoxide gas - a silent killer that is odorless, colorless and combustible.
Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. They may not have family nearby to look out for them. Don't just use NEXTDOOR and other social media - go to their home and make sure they're prepared and safe. If not help them to get to a community shelter where they will be safe from the frigid temperatures. If you do take them to a shelter help them make sure that their water is shutoff and faucets are open to drain water from the pipes to minimize damage to their home - BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR!!
If cold is extreme, go to a designated community shelter if you can safely do so. Stay indoors and off the roads when possible.
Be extra cautious when outdoors in cold weather. Downed power lines can be hidden by snow, trees, or other debris. Always assume a downed power line is live. If you see a downed power line, stay away and call us immediately at 888.313.4747, 24/7.
Monitor available communication channels for emergency communications. Conserve energy - your energy as well energy in cellphones, radios and battery operated televisions.
Close off unneeded rooms to consolidate and retain heat, put towels under the all doors to stop drafts. Unplug unnecessary electric appliances and electronics. Use surge protectors to protect electronic equipment and small appliances that must remain plugged in.
Use can track power outage details, report an outage, and view outage tips at ONCOR Storm Center & Outage Map. You can also report outages by calling 888.313.4747, 24/7.
If your power goes out, turn off your heating unit and shutoff the local gas valve shutoff - this may be in your attic. Close the main gas line shuroff and valves to other appliances such as water heater, stove and fireplace. Fireplace may be used if main gas line is on and fireplace is on; however, check to see if it it lights by an electric pilot as it will not operate without electricity.
After power has been restored, wait a few minutes before using large appliances.
Keep freezers and refrigerators closed when your power is out.
Stay warm by dressing in layers of loose-fitting clothing instead of a single heavy layer. If it is frigid cold select an interiior closet and move into it with bedding and blankets. The smaller volume will help tretain your heat and the area will be warmer than a larger open room. Keep your pets with you as they need your body heat as much as you need theirs.
If you have multiple mobile phones in the household, keep one phone on for emergency updates and turn the others off to preserve battery life.
Conserve power on your mobile phone in case of emergency. Some battery-saving tips include: turning down the screen light, turning off Bluetooth and WiFi (no power, no WiFi) and closing unused applications.
Recovering After a Winter Storm
Check on your neighbors, especially seniors as they are particularly susecptable to the frigid temperatures and may not have been able financially to prepare properly.
Confirm that power is on to your home and then double check your electrical breaker panel for any tripped or open breakers - turn on (close) waiting a few seconds in between. Turn on water and check for leaks, especially if piping runs in the attic. Turn off gas at all appliances (water heater, stove, and furnace) and then turn on main gas line. Turn on appliances individually and make sure the pilot lights properly - if not you may have to manually light the pilot light. If you cannot relight the pilot turn off the gas at the appliance and call a repairman.
Continue to monitor communication channels for current news and alerts.
Check your home for damage to ensure your location is safe.
Only drive if necessary, to keep the roads clear for emergency personnel and restoration crews.
Review your family emergency plan to determine what you can do better next time.
Restock necessary supplies used during the storm.
Additional tips and actions to keep you and your family safe
Install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level.
Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly; replace batteries in both yearly on a routine schedule whether needed or not.
Never use the kitchen stove/oven as a space heater.
Have your central heating system inspected annually by a licensed professional.
Keep a dry chemical fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Check your natural gas appliances - a yellow or orange flame may indicate a problem and should be checked by a qualified technician.
Keep flammable liquids and spray cans at least three feet from heating equipment.
Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room and before you go to bed.
Never place anything on top of a space heater.
Purchase heaters with a tip switch, which turns the heater off if it is knocked over.
Keep a flashlight and a battery-powered radio nearby.
To check on power outages or to report an outage to ONCOR call toll-free 888.313.4747, 24/7 or on the website at ONCOR Storm Center & Outage Map; if you have a 'smart meter,' there's no need to call because the meter will alert the power company about the outage.
What To Do If You Have a Natural Gas Leak:
If you or your family smell something similar to rotten eggs, you could have a natural gas leak - IMMEDIATELY EXTINGUISH ALL OPEN FLAMES.
Do not use any electrical or battery-powered item, do not switch lights on or off, do not light a match, or use a cell phone until you are out of the house. Any of these items could create a spark igniting the gas.
Leave your home immediately, do not try to locate the leak! Warn your neighbors because sometimes gas follows the underground pipes and can reach multiple homes!