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So, you’re asking yourself, about Austin Texas winters and how to be more prepared when it’s literally below freezing outside?
10 Secrets For Surviving Austin Winter
1. Drip Your Water On
Turn on your water to a slow drip and open all cabinet doors to expose your pipes to warmer interior air. Water expands when it freezes. If you’re old like me then you would make ice in trays and fill up those ice cube trays only part way to allow the water to expand into cubes. Remember, pipes are in your walls. If your insulation isn’t great, then that freezing cold air in your wallsis wrapping itself around your pipes like a blanket and those pipes will burst when the still water freezes and expands.
The difference in your water bill with water dripping overnight or few days vs your pipes bursting, flooding your home, the clean up and displacement until your insurance gets everything looked after and insures you don’t have mold. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Know where your shut off valves are.
Sidebar: If I was building a new home today, I would pay to have the exterior pipes and attic pipes insulated.
Travel Pro Tip: If you have a smart thermostat 2 things #1 keep an eye on it and navigate that temperature accordingly. #2 Have neighbors check on your home daily. If your heat is out or the water isn’t being used, you’re tempting fate.
If you have a fireplace, have it checked before winter and test it before that cold snap comes. This is is the time to learn how to light your gas fireplace or throw a log in and know how to work the flue and insure you don’t smoke up the inside of your home.
Stock up well before the weather hits us. The gift you give yourself is that you don’t feel like you need ot leave the house because you have everything you need – toilet paper, food and lots of water. I keep a 5 gallon PBA free water container year-round.
4. emergency supplies
Have Batteries and Flashlights – have fresh batteries ready for your flashlights. Have First Aid Kit and Medications – insure you have your basics including bandages, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, burn cream, thermometer, any type of fever reducer/pain reliever, and an antihistamine like Benadryl.
Do you have all of your and your kids meds for a week or two? If supply chain is interrupted for any reason in Austin or other parts of the world due to winter storms, you’ll be prepared and sleep at night knowing everyone has what they need.
They’re living in Austin Texas and not used to the snow or cold either. Ensure they’ll have someplace out of the wind and snow. If you can give them warm spaces inside, even better.
FYI: Cats have no fur on their ears. Their ears can literally freeze their ears and then they’ll need surgery. Don’t let them suffer outside. And, stock up on their food, meds and anything else they may need for a few days too.
6. EXTERIOR FAUCETS
Outside of your home, before the freezing weather comes (and we do get fair warning)
- Turn off your water source to your exterior taps.
- Open the taps and bleed them so that no water comes out. You’ll hear air only once you’ve drained the water out. That means there’s no water to freeze in your exterior pipes which means they won’t burst. 2. Once you’ve bled the taps, you’ll want to cover faucets. If your local big box hardware store doesn’t have the styrofoam insulators to place over the faucet, you can wrap them in towel to keep them from direct exposure to the freezing cold air. Now you’re covered. Ok, that was a pun.
Much of our plant life here thrives in warmer weather. We’re not in a cold zone and as a result of freezing or below freezing temperatures, they will die with exposure. We lost majestic aged cactuses and up to 90% of our palm trees after the Winter storm Uri in 2021. Many cactuses and more in the freeze of February 2022. Cover your plants could have been saved if covered with tarps or plant bags or if in moveable containers brought under cover to avoid the frost.
If there’s snow on the ground, running shoes are a recipe for disaster. They have zero traction. If you need to go out, choose different footwear. No flip flops. No cowboy boots. You want anything that can give your traction and doesn’t have a flat bottom..
9. DRIVING YOUR CAR
Don’t drive. Just don’t. Even if you’re a good driver there’s always going to be someone out who thinks navigating a 2.5 ton vehicle on packed snow or ice can’t be that hard. You don’t want to be a victim or the cause of damage to someone elses car or life.
If you are heading out, have basic emergency kit with you (which most of us do have at all times). Jumper cables. A flashlight and extra batteries. Blankets. Bottled water and snacks. A scraper to scrape off ice from the car. And, for “just in case” some sand or cat litter.
10. SNOW PLOWS, SALT AND SAND
Snow plows: there are none. Sit tight.
If it’s icy outside and you have pool salt or table salt, throw it on any areas you may immediately around your doors to melt it and perhaps a path to get you to your yard with your dog or down the stairs or wherever. Salt melts snow. It may not melt your margarita, but it melts snow. Sand helps with traction but it doesn’t melt snow.
ProTip for Cat Lovers: cat litter will give you traction on ice and compacted snow.
If you have any “secrets” you want to share about getting through Austin Texas snow, in the rare event that it happens, please comment below.
PS Dallas gets more snow and cold than us for what it’s worth!