The Texas winter is barely at the midway mark but has already subjected Lone Star State residents to a prolonged Arctic outbreak – some areas of the state saw 80+ hours of sub-freezing temperatures – and torrential rain with some areas receiving more than 12 inches in a few days.
“It is no secret that it has been a rainy week in the Brazos Valley. Since Monday, round after round after round of rain has passed overhead. These repeated disturbances prompted multiple flooding concerns with some areas picking up a third of their average yearly rainfall in just three days,” reported KBTX.
All this rain came on the heels of the freeze damage for some residents and highlights the risks of severe winter in Texas and the need to winterize your home.
Texas: Know for the Heat but Don’t Forget the Cold
Texas is known for its heat with soaring summer temperatures around the state, but residents may want to invest in at least one ski cap because the state can see its share of severe winter weather.
“Ice storms, cold waves, hail, winter storms: Texas has them all. And the combination of these weather events leads to at least $754 million losses in Texas and $106.4 million losses in Dallas annually, according to the National Risk Index, a database maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” reported the publication Governing.
For those who think it's too late to winterize their home in 2024, keep in mind that winter weather can stretch into March and that the worst winter storm in Texas history, the Great Texas Freeze, saw cold air hit the state from Feb. 10 to Feb. 27 with the hard freeze warnings stretching for almost nine days.
“Though power outages occurred throughout the South, they were mostly concentrated in Texas. At the peak of the outage, nearly 10 million people were in the dark, lacking warmth and the ability to cook food. The freeze also caused water pipes to burst and boil water advisories were issued in many counties,” reported NOAA. “Freezing precipitation developed throughout the state on February 15, creating thin layers of imperceptible ice on roadways. Cars slid off of freeways and streets resulting in accidents, including a pile-up of over 100 vehicles on I-35 West in Fort Worth, leaving several fatalities in its wake. Due to the impassable roads and state-wide blackout, there were also shortages at grocery stores.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported the death toll at over 200 lives.
Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter Weather
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the key to staying safe during the winter is to prepare, something many people fail to do.
“Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us may not be ready for its arrival. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you are more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall,” says the CDC.
The CDC says to prepare your home, do the following:
- Winterize your home.
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Check your heating systems.
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
- Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
- Have a safe alternative heating source and alternate fuels available.
- If you do not have working smoke detectors, install one inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning emergencies.
- Install a battery-operated or battery backup CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check or change the battery when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
- Learn the symptoms of CO poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Weatherization is Key to Winterizing Your Home
Proper weatherization of your home can not only pay off by lowering your energy costs and prolonging your HVAC systems, but it can also help prevent damage when severe winter weather hits.
“Weatherizing a home does more than save on energy costs — it can help prepare a home for when it gets too hot or too cold. According to the energy research hub HARC, many Texas homes during the historic February 2021 freeze had improper insulation, which allowed a substantial amount of heat to escape and caused indoor temperatures to quickly drop during the widespread blackouts,” reported The Courier.
The article recommends the following weatherization tips:
- Purchase a door sweep: Door sweeps are a cost-effective way to seal the space under a door that could otherwise release cold or hot air. The different types of door sweeps are designed to manage drafts coming in and out of the home.
- Add insulation: Purchasing insulation could cost far less in the long run than the potential energy bills that come with attics and pipes without proper insulation. Duct insulation tape can prevent pipes from sweating, dripping, and losing heat.
- Caulk and weatherstrip: Homeowners can weatherstrip their homes to seal air leaks around doors and windows, and they can use caulk to fill cracks and gaps around the home. Before doing this, homeowners need to detect where the air leaks are coming from. The Department of Energy has tips on how to do this.
- Replace air filters: It’s recommended to check and replace air filters every three months. Dirty air filters cause airflow to slow down, resulting in the HVAC system working harder.
- Use EPA-approved shower heads: Standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the agency, an EPA-approved shower head will have a WaterSense label and could save thousands of gallons of water per year.
- Check the direction of ceiling fans: In the winter, set ceiling fans counterclockwise to move warmer air downward. In the summer, set fans to spin clockwise to move warmer air upward.
- Install LED lights: According to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, LED lights use 25 times less electricity and produce less heat than ordinary light bulbs.
It’s also important to make sure you have the proper home insurance coverage in case of winter weather damage. Contact Dean & Draper Insurance today to explore customized policies that will protect you and your family.
The recommendation(s), advice, and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential, or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking, or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.
The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. Dean & Draper Insurance Agency specifically disclaims any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with Dean & Draper Insurance Agency. By providing this information to you, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.