Winter Weather

Prepare for Extreme Winter Weather

The City of Austin encourages you to prepare for winter weather. Don’t wait for the extreme cold, get ready now! 

 Follow the 4 P’s for winter weather safety:

  • People – Before going outside, dress in layers to protect yourself from the cold. While heating your home, do not use a generator, grill, camp-stove, or any gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning device because they generate deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  • Pets – Bring your pets inside to keep them warm and safe.
  • Pipes – Insulate or cover exposed pipes to protect them from freezing, turn off outside faucets, drip ONE faucet only, if needed.
  • Plants – Cover your plants or bring them in. 

Stay informed and get prepared before the frigid temperatures:

  • Download the Ready Central Texas mobile application for Apple or Android devices to get alerts and a digital copy of the Neighborhood Preparedness Guide.
  • Sign up at Warn Central Texas to receive alerts for your neighborhood, letting you know when to take immediate action to stay safe.
  • In an emergency, follow to get up to date emergency information in multiple languages.
  • Follow @AustinHSEM on Facebook and Twitter.
  • To receive emergency alerts in American Sign Language (ASL) register through the City’s Accessible Hazard Alert System (AHAS), or for quick SMS registration text AHAS to (737) 241-3710. Austin and Travis County AHAS subscribers in an area affected by an emergency or disaster will be able to receive an accessible alert message in ASL and English voice and text.  

Make a Plan: Before an emergency, sit down with your family to plan out what you may need to shelter at home or what you need if you have to evacuate. Use the Neighborhood Preparedness Guide to help you get started.

Build a Kit: Once you know your plan and have your supply list, build a kit of needed emergency supplies in a go-bag so it can be accessed quickly. Include items like medication, pet supplies, and use a check list to help get started. 

Know your Neighbors: In an emergency, your neighbors are the closest resource and can often be the fastest to respond. Making friends with your neighbors can also have more benefits than just during an emergency.

City of Austin Winter Weather Guidance

Across the City, departments prepare for colder weather. Follow winter weather safety guidance from our team to help keep your most precious resources safe this winter.

Austin Public Health

When Cold Weather Shelters for people experiencing homelessness are activated, this hotline will be updated with shelter details: Cold Weather Shelter Hotline at 512-972-5055.  

Follow public health winter weather safety guidance to keep your most precious resources safe this winter.

Development Services Department 

Common weather-related issues associated with property damage may include no hot water, burst pipes, and cracks in the ceiling or walls. One way to prevent damage is to proactively follow these property maintenance tips:

  • Test your gas service lines annually for possible leaks.  
  • Check if your furnace is operating correctly.  
  • Check if the boilers are working as intended.  
  • Check if you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  

Tenants who experience unresolved code violations, can request a Code Inspector by calling Austin 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000. Visit the Austin Code Safe and Sound webpage for more property maintenance winter tips.   

Austin Water

Austin Water encourages customers to take steps now to prepare for winter. Following a few easy steps now will help customers protect their property and prevent damage when freezing weather does arrive in Austin.

Locate your water shutoff. Locate the water main shutoff valve and keep it clear of debris and obstacles at all times. For most homes, the property owner’s shutoff valve is on your side of the water meter at the meter box. For renters, please consult with your property manager. If you cannot find your shutoff valve or if it is damaged, then you should be prepared to access the City shutoff valve in the meter box in an emergency. You may need a water meter key to open the meter box, which can be purchased at most hardware stores. Watch a video about how to locate your water shutoff.  
Weatherize to keep out cold air. Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and be prepared to close garage doors for the duration of the freeze. Gather supplies to cover vents on your home’s foundation.  
Weatherize exposed pipes and water heaters. Prepare to insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, such as an attic or garage. Also check manufacturer recommendations for your tanked and tankless water heaters. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help keep pipes from freezing. Get all supplies now so you are ready to wrap pipes and water heaters when a winter storm is approaching.  
Learn how to drip faucets properly. After the measures above are taken, drip one cold water faucet slowly if you feel your pipes may still freeze. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main shutoff valve. It does not need to be a running trickle. If you do drip your faucet, capture the water for future use. Watch a video about how to drip faucets properly.  
Outside faucet protection. Austin Water encourages all customers to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. Prepare supplies to wrap outside faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator.  
Gather supplies to be prepared. Have one gallon of water per person and pet per day for seven days on hand to help avoid the rush at stores when the first winter storm of the season approaches.  

Stay Informed: 

Austin Energy

In case of a power outage:  

  • Unplug appliances and turn off most lights to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored.  
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during an outage and follow FDA guidelines for food safety.

Electrical Safety Tips:  

  • If using an electric space heater, be sure it has an automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements. Keep it away from flammable materials.  
  • Never heat your home with a gas oven or burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented. Do not burn paper in a fireplace.  
  • Do not drive over or go near a downed power line, as it could be energized. Call 311 if you see a downed line to report it. If the line is sparking, call 911.  
  • If you see limbs on wires or see downed tree limbs, please call 311 to report them.

  Stay Informed   

Austin Transportation & Public Works

Low temps, ice, and wintery weather can make driving hazardous. Before driving in inclement weather this season, be sure to:   

  • Approach intersections with caution and always treat dark signals as an all-way stop.
  • Check for updated weather conditions.
  • Avoid bridges and overpasses.
  • Check tire pressure and tread.
  • Make sure windshield wipers and lights are functioning.   
  • Keep a winter emergency kit with the following items in your vehicle: 
    • Jumper cables
    • Flares or reflective triangle
    • Ice scraper
    • Car cell phone charger
    • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction. 
Austin Travis County EMS

The best advice for winter weather is to remain indoors if at all possible and remain “weather aware.” Stay tuned to local weather forecasts for weather advisories, traffic updates, and road closures.

Keep your phone and other media devices fully charged in case of a power outage and consider a battery- or solar-powered weather alert or AM/FM radio for your residence to keep you informed in the event of a power failure. 

Additionally, NEVER use your oven, stove, or portable charcoal, propane, natural gas, or gasoline grills or heaters to heat your home or any enclosed area. In addition to their fire hazard, they can generate large amounts of deadly, odorless, colorless, carbon monoxide fumes. Portable generators powering electric heaters also produce carbon monoxide! 

Visit the ATCEMS Winter Weather Safety page for more winter safety tips.  

Austin Fire Department

The Austin Fire Department has a number of tips and practices you can implement in your home to keep you and your family safe. 

Tips for Safely Heating Your Home:

  • Remember, space heaters need space! They should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Make sure your central heating system is up to date and if not, do your best to have it inspected and serviced before the weather hits.
  • Never use kerosene or gas heaters in enclosed spaces.
  • Don’t use internal combustion engines inside due to Carbon Monoxide hazards.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

Fireplace Safety:

  • Make sure the flue is open.
  • Only use firewood in approved fireplaces – don’t burn treated lumber or scraps.
  • Never use lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use a metal fire screen to prevent anything from falling out and keep children away.
  • If your chimney hasn’t been professionally inspected, it should be once a year.

Escape Plan:

  • Have a home escape plan for your family and pets in the event of a fire.
  • Have two ways out that everyone in the house knows.
  • Get out as fast as you can and have a meeting place where one of you can safely call 911.
  • Never go back inside.
  • Practice the escape plan!

Candle Safety:

  • Put them out when you’re done with them.
  • Put them where they cannot be knocked over.
  • Don’t let your kids use them.
  • Don’t put them near anything combustible or flammable, and make sure they’re always in sturdy candle holders.

General Safety Tips:

  • Check your smoke detector batteries.
  • Stay home if road conditions are bad.
  • Make sure you have new batteries in your flashlights, so you don’t have to use candles if you lose power.

Visit the AFD Fire and Life Safety Tips page for more life-saving tips!