Preparing for the next winter storm

  • Published
  • By Staff Sergeant Samuel Cervantez
  • 17th Civil Engineer Squadron

Nearly one year ago, Texas residents across all 254 counties faced a historic winter storm like no other in the last 50 years.  Winter Storm Uri had a devastating impact on the state, contributing to nearly $300 billion in damages and resulted in President Biden issuing a major disaster declaration for the state of Texas. Approximately 70% percent of residents lost power in their homes and nearly 50% percent did not have running water; this went on for almost nine 9 days.

The combination of outages and extremely low temperatures contributed to the deaths of 246 people.  Millions across the state were vulnerable to effects of frostbite and hypothermia.  Amidst the chaos, members of the 17th Training Wing stepped up to provide aid to the community with bedding, water, firewood, and manpower for local shelters.

Winter Storm Uri materialized overnight, giving people minimal time to gather supplies and prepare for the storm. During the storm, most roads and highways were inaccessible.  Residents were trapped at home with only the supplies they had on hand prior to the storm. This is understandable since Texas is not often impacted by winter weather. However, now that military members are aware that Texas is not exempt from this type of severe weather, it is important to start making preparations now, as if the next storm will come.

Through the lessons learned last year, it is now easy to see that storms can be unpredictable and its intensity can be difficult to measure until it is upon us. Members must take the time to prepare by creating a plan and educating themselves and others on winter hazards. These hazards can come directly and indirectly from cold weather.  Indirect cold weather related hazards and can include things such as operating a vehicle and using cold weather equipment such as generators and warmers.  

To endure and survive the next winter storm, below is a critical list of items to have on hand and safety tips to follow. 

Supplies to have on hand:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Baby formula
  • Prescription medications
  • Pet food
  • Ice melting salt
  • Flashlights with batteries
  • Candles
  • Matches or lighter
  • Firewood
  • Covers for outdoor water spigots
  • Portable chargers for vehicle(s) and mobile phone(s)
  • Snow shovel
  • Car de-icer solution
  • Ice scraper


Safety precautions/tips

  • Check vehicle tire condition.
  • Ensure your vehicle is ‘winterized,’ which includes having adequate levels of coolant in the radiator, antifreeze mixture for your windshield fluid, functional wiper blades and battery, and an emergency kit. 
  • Avoid driving on icy roads unless it’s necessary. 
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, wear layers of warm clothing and gloves. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow.