AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is helping residents prepare for winter weather by giving out supplies this week.
The City said the following items will be available for residents (while supplies last) to collect at City Utilities Customer Service Centers (UCSC):
- meter keys
- hose bib covers
- hand-crank flashlights
- emergency preparedness kit materials
- winter preparedness tip sheets
The gear will be available on certain days this week, as well as some days in January. Here’s when and where you can pick them up.
North UCSC (8716 Research Blvd., Suite 115)
- Tuesday, Nov. 29
- Tuesday, Jan. 10
- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
East UCSC (2800 Webberville Rd.)
- Wednesday, Nov. 30
- Wednesday, Jan. 11
- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
South UCSC (1901 W. William Cannon Dr., Suite 100)
- Thursday, Dec. 1
- Thursday, Jan. 12
- 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Preparing pipes for freezing weather
While winter isn’t necessarily targeting Central Texas right now, here are tips from the City of Austin to protect your property if freezing weather is approaching.
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Find your water shutoff
Austin Water says to find where the water main shutoff valve is and keep it clear of debris and obstacles. Most often, it’s on your side of the water meter at the meter box. Renters should speak with their property manager.
If you can’t find your valve or if it is damaged, you should prepare to access the City’s shutoff valve in the meter box in a pinch, Austin Water says. You might need a water meter key to open the meter box; those can be found at most hardware stores.
Weatherize to keep out cold air
Repair broken or drafty windows, doors and walls, the City of Austin says. Seal leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and close garage doors during a freeze. Get supplies to cover vents on your home’s foundation, the City says.
Weatherize exposed pipes, water heaters
The City says to insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, like an attic or garage. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help stop pipes from freezing. Get the supplies ahead of time so you’re ready to wrap pipes and water heaters when a winter storm is approaching, the City says.
Learn to drip faucets properly
After your exposed pipes are insulated, the City says to drip one cold water faucet slowly if you think your pipes might still freeze in the event of a winter storm. The faucet that should be dripped should be the one farthest from your main shutoff valve.
The City says you can also capture the dripping water for future use.
Austin Water encourages all customers to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. Prep supplies to wrap outside faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator.
The City recommends having one gallon of water per person and pet per day for seven days on hand. This will help avoid the rush at stores when a winter storm is coming.
Tips from Austin Energy
- To report a power outage, text OUT to 287846 or visit the outage map online. You can also call (512) 322-9100.
- Unplug appliances and turn off most lights to avoid overloading circuits when the power comes back on.
- Keep fridge and freezers closed during an outage. Follow FDA guidelines for food safety.
- Monitor Texas power grid conditions online.
- Follow Austin Energy on social media (Twitter | Facebook)
- If using an electric space heater, ensure it has an automatic shutoff switch. Keep it away from materials that can catch fire.
- Never heat your home using a gas oven or burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented. Don’t burn paper in a fireplace.
- Don’t drive or go near a downed power line. Call 311 to report the downed line. If the line is sparking, call 911.
- If you see limbs on wires or downed tree limbs, call 311 to report it.
- Learn more about saving on your winter utility bill online.