AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Fire Department said it responded to 823 emergency calls in 24 hours between Friday and Saturday, an AFD tweet said Saturday afternoon. Those included over 500 freezing weather-related calls.
The department typically responds to 275 calls, on average, in a 24-hour shift. Friday’s calls were a nearly 200% increase than typical.
Austin firefighters responded mostly to fire alarm activation and broker water pipes calls, AFD said.
Austin-area plumbers told KXAN they frequently ran into situations Thursday and Friday where homemade faucet covers weren’t enough. They recommend double-checking outdoor faucet covers and dripping one inside faucet with hot water and another sink with cold water.
Austin-Travis County EMS said it responded to two carbon monoxide incidents Friday and 41 environmental incident calls.
Carbon monoxide exposures and poisonings increase in the winter when temperatures drop and home heating systems run for hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Tips to prevent CO poisoning include:
- Checking or changing the batteries in your CO detector every six months.
- Having your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Keeping vents and flues free of debris.
- Never leaving the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never running a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
- Never using a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
- Never running a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
If you suspect poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional right away.
Hundreds of unhoused persons taken to shelters
Austin-Travis County EMS said on Monday that from Thursday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 25, specialized teams visited about 68 locations, where they moved 400-500 unhoused individuals to cold weather shelters using CapMetro transportation.
ATCEMS said single-responder units took 58 people and six dogs to City warming centers as well.
About 150 unhoused individuals chose not to relocate, according to ATCEMS. In these cases, the agency said the locations of these people were recorded and follow-ups were done to make sure no one changed their minds about moving to a shelter during the frigid weather.
ATCEMS Integrated Services also gave out blankets, coats, clothes, hand warmers and other supplies to those experiencing homelessness.
During the Thursday through Sunday time period, ATCEMS said it responded to 1,377 incidents, including 80 environmental exposures and three carbon monoxide exposures.