Starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday, most parts of the state will be impacted by extremely cold winter weather. Temperatures will dip well below freezing and in many places the wind chill will cause temperatures to plunge below zero.
Exposure to such cold temperatures can be dangerous for people with disabilities and service animals. Personal property, like powerchairs, vehicles, and even housing, can also be damaged when it gets this cold. That’s why it’s critical that you take steps now so you are prepared when the cold weather hits.
The weather can change quickly, so it’s important to sign-up to receive weather alerts on a mobile device so you know what’s happening in real time.
If you use a smartphone or a tablet, you can use a weather app or the FEMA App to get weather alerts – just make sure that notifications are turned on. If you use a regular cell phone, like a flip phone, you may be able to receive weather alerts via text through your city or county’s emergency notification system.
Besides knowing what’s going on with the weather, it’s a good idea to know what’s going on with things the weather can impact.
Extremely cold temperatures can impact infrastructure – think roads, power, and water – and if these things aren’t available, you want to know about it. If your city or county provides emergency notifications, it’s a good idea to sign up for those. If certain roads are closed or if there’s a boil water notice, emergency notifications can help you stay informed.
Also, your energy provider may provide alerts that let you know if your power is out and when it is expected to come back on.
Make sure you stock up on essentials. Have plenty of non-perishable food, water, and medications on-hand – for you and for your pets. Warm clothes and blankets can help you stay warm, especially if the heat goes out or if you have to travel. If possible, have an alternative heat source – like a fireplace or a space heater – if your primary heat source stops working.
Have a Plan
Anything can happen with extreme winter weather, so planning is key, including planning for different scenarios. For example, if you are sheltering in place at home and the heat goes out, you may need to go to a friend’s house or a warming center. How will you get there? Is the heat even on there? Make sure you have phone numbers and addresses for the people and places you may need to connect with if your situation becomes dangerous.
Our Emergency Ready Sheet can help you plan. When you create your own Emergency Ready Sheet, you’ll be prompted to think about things like who is your emergency contact, what your healthcare needs are, your various service providers, and more.
The Austin American-Statesman’s How to prepare for the Austin freeze and future winter weather includes a number of tips anyone can use, including what you can do to prepare your house, your vehicle, and more.
With dangerously-low temperatures expected, many communities throughout Texas will operate warming centers to help people stay safe and warm. Below are links to information about warming centers in some communities. In some cases, transportation to warming centers is available and some also offer kennels for pets.
- Abilene warming center
- Amarillo warming center
- Austin warming centers
- Boerne warming center
- Central Texas warming centers
- Corpus Chisti warming centers
- Dallas warming centers (also, Dallas libraries and recreation centers will serve as warming centers)
- El Paso warming centers
- Houston warming centers
- Lubbock warming options
- Midland warming centers
- North Texas warming centers (also, Salvation Army of North Texas warming centers)
- Odessa warming centers
- Rio Grande Valley warming centers
- San Antonio warming centers
- West Texas warming centers
The Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Local Seasonal Relief Centers map shows locations for many warming centers across the state.
The list above is not comprehensive. For the most up-to-date information, call 2-1-1 or search online for warming centers in your area.
- ASL video: Preparing for Winter Weather (FEMA)
- Disaster Preparedness and Recovery resources (Disability Rights Texas)
- FEMA Region 6 Disability Partner Winter Preparedness Tips (via the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities)
- Winter Preparedness Tips for Texans with Disabilities (Disability Rights Texas)
- Winter Safety Tips for People with Disabilities (Easterseals)