AUSTIN (KXAN) — With cold forecasted to arrive in Central Texas, here are some tips to prepare ahead of time.

Stay up-to-date with alerts

Warn Central Texas will send emails, texts or call with emergency alerts from the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG). Those are similar to the reverse 9-1-1 calls people with landline phones receive, which include evacuation notices, information about shelters, water boil notices and prolonged power outages. People can sign up to get emergency alerts on Warn Central Texas’ website.

KXAN’S First Warning Weather team will also be working around the clock to bring you up-to-date weather coverage of this storm. Sign up for our daily forecast newsletter at Download the KXAN Weather app to get the latest weather forecast and push alerts: Apple | Android

As part of the county’s ‘Prepare Travis County’ initiative, leaders also recommended connecting with utility providers prior to a winter weather event. That includes making sure all of your contact information and address is up to date, writing down important phone numbers, following your utility companies on social media and subscribing to alerts.

Build a kit

An emergency kit should include food and water to last for several days, along with tools in case your power goes out. Here are some items that should be included:

  • Food and water for several days
  • Pet food and supplies
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and phone chargers in case power goes out
  • Prescription medication and glasses

Get your home ready

Leave your heat and water on to ensure it continues operating when you need it

Keep your faucets dripping to avoid your pipes freezing and bursting

Keep cabinet doors open so the warm air can keep the pipes warm

If you are one of the hundreds, not thousands, of Texans who recently purchased a home generator, make sure it is placed safely outside and away from your home. Placing it inside, or too close to an air vent can cause the fumes and exhaust to enter your home.

Make a plan

It is good to discuss with your family how to respond, stay informed and contact one another during emergency situations where electricity, water or first responders may not be available, according to the website.

A family plan should include:

  • A designated place to meet if separated outside your home or nearby
  • A plan to contact one another if you are unable to meet or get separated during a crisis
  • Public safety phone numbers (i.e. police, fire and hospital) for your area
  • An out-of-area contact to communicate you’re safe and learn the status of other family members

Bring in your pets

Younger pets, like puppies and kittens, as well as older pets can develop mild hypothermia symptoms with temperatures in the 50s, according to Dr. Samuel Morehead, owner of the Leander Vet Clinic explains.

Even healthy pets, if they spend a majority of their lives inside, can be susceptible to hypothermia.

Texas law requires animal owners to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter. When the temperature drops, the Austin Animal Services Office said outdoor pets should be brought inside if possible. If they can’t come inside, they should have shelter like a doghouse or shed with blankets or straw inside.

If you see an animal you suspect has been left out in the cold and aren’t able to first talk to the owner about it, the Humane Society says you should contact local law enforcement or animal control. In Austin, the recommended first step is to call 3-1-1.

Other tips

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said working smoke alarms are essential in every household. It is also important to make sure all batteries are changed ahead of time.

If you have one, have a professional look at your fireplace and clean it every year. Keep flammable materials away from the fire, and do not burn trash or cardboard boxes in it.

Never use your oven or stove as a heating source.

Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater, NFPA said.

Cover your plants: You can use blankets, drop cloths and even bed sheets to go over them, but the key is to create some space between the cover and the plant itself. In empty space, the air will stay warmer, thus helping to protect your plant.