When temperatures drop and storms hit, it can be challenging to stay safe and warm. Winter storm severity varies depending on where you live, but nearly all Texans are affected by extreme winter weather at some point. San Bernard Electric Cooperative cares about your safety, and we want you to be prepared.
- Ice can lead to downed power lines, leaving co-op members without power. During extremely low temperatures, this can be dangerous. During a power outage, our crews will continue to work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power, but there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.
Stay warm. Plan to use a safe alternate heating source, such as a fireplace or wood-burning stove during a power outage. These are great options to keep you and your loved ones warm, but exercise caution when using them, and never leave the heating source unattended. If you are using gasoline-, propane- or natural gas-burning devices to stay warm, never use them indoors. Remember that fuel- and wood-burning sources of heat should always be properly ventilated. Always read the manufacturer’s directions before using.
Be prepared for inclement weather before it happens. If you don’t have an emergency kit already, now is the time to make one. Include the following items in your kit, and keep it stocked, up to date, and in a designated spot that is easily accessible at all times.
- bottled water
- nonperishable food
- first-aid supplies
- medications (over-the-counter and prescription)
- pet supplies
- battery banks for charging devices
- all-weather radio
- multipurpose tool
- air-activated heat packs
- hand sanitizer
- a list of important numbers, including your SBEC account number, and SBEC’s outage reporting and emergency line, 800-364-3171.
Sign up for SMS alerts
SBEC now offers a one-way text alert service. Sign up today to receive these messages from SBEC during an emergency, including prolonged power interruptions and mandated rolling outages. Add your mobile phone number to TextPower by texting SBEC to 85700. For Full instructions, please visit us on the Reporting an Outage page.
We will also be updating information on our social media, through our email list from San Bernard Electric Cooperative, and on our website. You can follow us on Facebook here.
If temperatures drop and forecasts begin to show cold weather or a wintry mix, you may want to have these items ready and on-hand, in addition to your emergency kit.
- Charged cell phone and extra cords for charging phones, tablets, and other electronic devices
- Additional firewood
- Coats, hats, gloves, and warm clothing
- An additional heating source
- Your SBEC account number (keep this handy)
- Extra fuel for vehicles
Prepare your home
- Insulate external water lines on your water heater to help keep your pipes warm and save money on heating water. Remove and store garden hoses and cover exposed water lines and spigots.
- Falling, icy tree branches are a common cause of property damage and power outages. Trim any trees that are close enough to damage your home. Contact SBEC at 800-364-3171 for any trees that come within 10 feet of the power lines. NEVER trim trees that are close to a power line.
- Check the weather-stripping on your windows and doors, and seal leaks with caulk or replacement stripping. Addressing air leaks may save you up to 20% on your heating bill!
- Check the HVAC filter at least once a month and replace it when it is dirty.
- Have a certified technician perform maintenance on your system to ensure it is running efficiently.
- Develop a plan with your family in case of prolonged outages (where and when to seek shelter if needed).
Report and track outages
- Our updated outage map allows members to search in real time for their address to see if their outage is registered, the status, and the estimated time of restoration if one is available. Report and track your outage on our outage map.
- Monitor SBEC communications for potential energy conservation alerts and follow guidance when you are able. We’ll provide updates whenever possible on our website and social media channels including:
Protect your home
- Keep your faucets on a slow drip to keep pipes from freezing. Catch the dripping water in a clean container, sink, or tub to use if your water system is impacted. If your pipes freeze, turn off the main water supply to prevent further damage.
- Pick the lowest temperature you’re comfortable with and set your thermostat there — 68 degrees or lower is recommended. When you’re not home, keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight.
- Close doors to unoccupied rooms to help warm your home faster.
- If you experience an outage, keep lights and appliances off to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored. Instead, leave only one light on as a signal, so that you know when your power returns.
- If you have an additional heating source, like a fireplace, be sure that it’s clean and working properly before using it.
Remember these important winter storm safety tips:
- Don’t use your stove or oven for heat. Gas stoves and ovens produce carbon monoxide, and electric ones pose a fire risk when not used as designed.
- Don’t run your car in the garage as a way of warming up. Only run the car outside, and before you start it, make sure that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and debris. Taking these steps could save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never run a generator closer than 20 feet from doors and windows to prevent fumes from entering the home.
Protect your family
- Watch weather reports closely. Keep your all-weather radio nearby and listen to local media reports for the most up-to-date weather and safety information.
- Keep a close watch on the temperature in your home and check it often. If outages are prolonged, consider staying with friends, family, or in a local shelter.
- Remember these important safety tips when using your generator and always practice safety when using alternative heat sources.
- Bring pets inside your home, and provide blankets, shelter, and water for livestock.
- If you are able, check on elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends to make sure they’re safe, especially if they live alone.
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service’s Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
American Red Cross
National Weather Service