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How to stay safe and prepare for a winter storm weather event

We've gathered a list of resources on how to prepare your home and car for the cold weather. There's also tips on how to drive during wintry weather conditions.

DALLAS — Record cold temperatures are expected this upcoming once arctic air arrives in North Texas. 

The arctic blast could bring some of the coldest air or the coldest stretch the area has seen in decades. The WFAA Weather team also predicts snow is likely, some heavy, with snowfall totals of 3 inches to 7 inches or more possible.

Some of the snow will stick due to cold temperatures over a period of several days. This means road conditions could dangerous throughout the week.

Several vehicle and energy companies shared helpful tips on what you need to do to prepare for cold weather conditions. This includes getting your house and vehicle ready before the storm arrives and what to do once it's here. 

RELATED: Winter Storm Watch in effect for all of North Texas

Preparation tips for freezing temps:

Westlake Ace Hardware offered helpful tips to prepare a home for the cold weather ahead.

  • Disconnect all hoses and insulate outside faucets. Foam faucet covers are inexpensive and very easy to install. They come fully assembled and can be reused each season.
  • Insulate water pipes. Check areas of the home where pipes are prone to freezing such as a bathroom that has an outside wall, crawl spaces, attics, and garages. Use foam pipe insulation or insulating tape to cover the entire length of the exposed pipe
  • Keep the cold out. Boost your home’s ability to hold in heat by applying weather stripping around doors and windows or install a plastic window insulation kit.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Leave a trickle of water running in pipes that have a tendency to freeze and when going out of town, set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Take care of outdoor pets by buying a heated water bowl for dogs or installing a heating element in your ceramic birdbath. Bring outside pets in when temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Stock up. Purchase in advance all the necessary tools to clear sidewalks and driveways such as snow shovels, salt or sand, and windshield deicer.
  • Create an emergency kit. In case the power goes out, or you are unable to leave your home, prepare an emergency kit with items such as a battery-powered radio, cell phone charging brick, flashlights, extra batteries, candles, and matches.

Atmos Energy tips for keeping your home warm:

  • Never use an oven or a gas stovetop to heat your home.
  • Protect natural gas meters. Natural gas meters are weather-proof; however, to ensure that the meter keeps working smoothly, remove snow and ice from natural gas meters with a broom or brush. Never kick or chip snow and ice away with a hard object.
  • Safely remove snow from vents for dryers and other natural gas equipment. Blocked vents for dryers and other gas appliances can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
  • Minimize the risk of frozen pipes. Leave faucets running at a trickle, leave cabinet doors open, and close all doors and windows to keep heat inside.
  • If you think you smell gas, act fast. Leave the area immediately and from a safe distance call 911 and the Atmos Energy emergency number, 866-322-8667.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas also suggests being prepared with extra blankets and flashlights. They are warning to be careful with candles.

How to conserve energy 

  • Set thermostat to 68 degrees or lower
  • Close blinds, curtains to retain heat
  • Unplug any appliance that you aren’t using
  • Don’t use large appliances (dishwaher, washer, dryer) during peak hours – morning, evening

How to dress for cold weather

The National Weather Service Fort Worth shared a graphic on how to dress for extremely cold weather conditions. This includes 3-plus layers of top clothing, two or more layers of bottoms, and gloves. 

People are also advised to wear gloves, a warm hat, face mask, and waterproof shoes. 

RELATED: Hypothermia and frostbite: Know the warning signs

AAA Texas

Preparing your vehicle for driving in bad weather

  • Clear all snow and ice from the vehicle’s windows, roof, hood, trunk lid, and any other covered areas. This will reduce risk because it increases your visibility. Additionally, drivers around you won’t be blinded by snow blowing off your vehicle.
  • Use an ice scraper to remove snow and ice from your windshield and all windows, including side and rear windows. This will improve your ability to see other roadway users that may move into your path of travel.
  • To optimize visual clarity, clean the outside and inside of your windshield at least once a week. Frequent cleaning is even more important if you smoke.
  • Keep your car’s windshield and rear-window defrosters in good working condition.
  • Keep your windshield wiper blades fresh. Many drivers change them every six months, especially before driving in bad weather.

RELATED: Why is my tire pressure low?

On the road

  • Make sure your headlights are on. In fact, it is a good idea to turn on your headlights any time you drive, because you will increase your visibility in any conditions.
  • Reduce your speed and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Do not use cruise control on any wet, snow-covered or icy roads.
  • Be aware of possible icy roads. Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, which freeze sooner than roads. And even at temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Be careful on infrequently traveled roads, which may not be cleared as often as other roads.

Leaving the roadway

  • If you must pull off the road, wait for conditions to improve and pull off the road as far as you can, preferably past the end of a guardrail.
  • It is best to pull into a rest area or parking lot, rather than on the road’s shoulder.

Know when to brake and when to steer

  • Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When traveling more than 25 mph, AAA Texas recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in winter-like conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.
  • However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further ahead and increase following and stopping distances. Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely.

Stay in control through a skid

  • Even careful and experienced drivers can skid on slippery surfaces.  When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important not to panic and follow these basic steps:
  • Continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

Additional winter driving safety tips from AAA Texas

  • Use your seatbelt every time you get in the vehicle.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice, or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.

How to help the homeless community

SoupMobile is asking the public to donate blankets to the homeless community ahead of arctic air expected to hit Dallas-Fort Worth. 

The organization is hoping to collect 10,000 blankets. People can bring blankets from 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Saturday to SoupMobile's new food pantry located at 2490 Coombs Street in Dallas.

Anyone who can't make it in person is encouraged to make a donation online. 

RELATED: Dallas-area agencies will run out of money to care for homeless people before bitter cold ends


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