The week of Valentine's Day February 14th through February 20th, 2021 was a very interesting week in Texas. With below freezing weather, many Texans faced challenges they have never before. Luckily both Tony and I were very prepared both physically and mentally. We both spent a lot of time in Utah, were these winter storms are not unusual. Additionally, we both grew up in situations were we were without power or water for long periods of time.
How we were already prepared:
We have multiple lanterns as well as rechargeable LED light bars
We have matches, a lighter & candles
We have rechargeable batteries which were all charged
We have a phone power bank
We have a portable solar panel
We have 10 gallons of emergency drinking water storage
We have a good storage of non perishable food which we eat and replenish regularly, including canned meat, soups, rice, chips, crackers, peanut butter & more.
We double filter our water regardless of the situation. We just have two purifying pitchers and pour one into the other after it has filtered.
We are also lucky that our water heater and range is gas, which was not affected by the storm.
Sunday the 14th, we walked the perimeter of the house to look for any pipes we could insulate, we covered them with blankets and then trash bags, secured it with rope to keep as much water off of them from the snow and rain. It had snowed that evening but we had both power and water.
Monday the 15th, it had snowed but we had both power and water.
Tuesday morning the 16th, I noticed our bedroom was getting very cold around 3am, our power went out, which meant that our thermostat was off. I got up, lit some candles and gathered all our battery powered lanterns, I then began boiling water on 3 of our 4 burners. This actually kept our house very warm. We still had water on at the time, so I made sure to fill up buckets of water, we had several 5 gallon buckets we use for storage and washing our cars that I had cleaned out. I did not make coffee but was drinking a lot of hot tea to keep me warm.
Tony got up for work at his usual time and I served him breakfast. Work ended up cancelled and we napped on the couch in our open concept living/dining/kitchen area as it was the warmest. Cell phone service was bad, we have to leave the neighborhood to get any service without our Wi-Fi. I remembered we had some cards, so Tony and I played cards for a few hours.
That night power came back on for a few hours, I stopped the boiling pots, we cranked the heat up after we restarted the pilot on our heater, cracked open our attic entry to help our pipes stay warm. We put each faucet on to drip, varying between both hot or cold, we collected all this water for future use. We had lost water in our master bathroom at the toilet and shower so we assumed that the pipe had frozen. Our dehumidifier was going nuts because of all the water I put in the air from boiling.
Wednesday the 17th, again our bedroom was cold at the early hours of the morning. Again I got up, lit some candles began boiling water. Tony got up for work at his usual time and I served him breakfast, he went to work. Since all my work is online, I did a lot of reading and napping. I was glad that Tony worked, he would at least be warm and had access to water.
Power came on about 3:40pm, luckily the pilot light didn't need to be reset. Still no water pressure more than the drip. We used the hot water I was boiling and water from the buckets to wash, flush, etc.
Power was inconsistent Wednesday & Thursdays.
Friday the 19th power had been restored fully and we got water pressure back however were on a boil order and water was coming out of the faucet brown. I still had water in the buckets that we continued to use. Our post office was open. I finally made a pot of coffee.
Saturday the 20th, everything was back to normal, all our snow was melted. We unwrapped the pipes.
The boil water notice ended Monday February 22 but our water is still pretty gross, so we continue to boil and then double filter.
Prayers go out to everyone that suffered. I know there was a lot of pipes which burst and houses that flooded as a result. A house down the street from my house burned down because the fire department was not able to put it out, there was no water in the system.
We've sat down and have gone over what else we could have done and what we are doing to further prepare not just for major storms but will increase savings in our utility bills and ability to do more:
We couldn't have run our candles for another 2 night. We had 3 3 wick candles and they were nearly depleted. I only had these on at night when our power was out. So I decided to buy oil lamps, which I have always loved but they are pretty expensive. So I found these Wine Bottle Torch Kit 8 Pack, which I can just recycle my wine bottles. I bought citronella lamp oil, which will come in handy during the summer and regular lamp oil. Keep in mind if you don't buy the lamp oil I recommended, you will need an indoor use lamp oil if you intend to use these indoors otherwise, I noticed that outdoor lamp oil has a strong scent and smokes and will make smoke stains on your ceiling and walls. You will want to keep oil lamps away from children and pets, these can spill and catch fire.
We will be insulating as much of our pipes as we can. Foam King Pipe Insulation and similar can be found at hardware stores near you, these are simple to put on your pipes. You'll need to know the diameter of your pipes as they can vary. You'll also want an outdoor pipe insulation plan as well, don't forget your outdoor faucet(s).
Our water pipes run from the street into our garage and then into our attic, so we will also be insulating our attic roof from the inside.
I want better LED Lanterns, I did have some but they are so old that they aren't very bright or efficient.
We have very efficient double pane windows on all our windows except one, I will get a window insulation kit for winter. This wall is so cold to the touch because of this window that this is necessary.
It was cold, we were lucky because I put food in the garage to stay cold but if this happened in the summer, we would have had to throw all our refrigerator food away. So having a generator and a way to charge that generator is important, we plan to do that with a solar panel which we will not affix to the house, this will just be charged as needed. I want two sizes of generator, one 48000mAh for our smaller devices and one 80000mAh. I did consider a gas generator, the issue with that gas was not readily available during this last storm but sunshine was. We ended up getting gas 2 towns over in one of our cars, the price was jacked up because of scarcity and many gas stations were out of stock or didn't have power at all.
Speaking of gas, we normally have a gas can filled up but we had used it at a previous autocross and didn't refill it. I will make sure this doesn't happen again.
I believe long term emergency food storage is very necessary. These are foods I wouldn't normally eat because I do not eat a lot of gluten but in case of emergency beggars can't be choosers. I will be buying this 25 year shelf life kit: Wise Company Emergency Food Supply
I am aware that we may not have gas in the future as part of another emergency, so cooking may be an issue. I am going to buy both a wood burning camp stove and a propane camp stove. These are recommended for outdoor use. We do not have a barbeque grill because we don't cook outside but if you have one, make sure you keep your propane full.
I also want a way to purify more water if necessary.
I have some matches but since neither of us smoke, we don't have lighters, so I will be buying an electric lighter. These are rechargeable and windproof.
Last and final thing we need is stuff to do, luckily I was reading a book but entertaining each other was hard. Going to buy this 100 game set.
One final piece of advice, sign up for your counties emergency alert system, this is usually via text. This will help you stay informed and up to date on services.
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