On the heels of a bitter winter earlier this year, Texas counties should start preparing for another bout of cold weather in the coming months.
For the 2021-2022 winter, Texas could see temperatures that dip just below average temperatures, according to the Farmer’s Almanac predictions. February 2021’s winter storm crippled much of the state with icy temperatures and snow, but the periodical said, “hopefully, (this winter) won’t be as robust.”
One of the biggest lessons that TAC Risk Management Services staff want to pass on to counties is to make sure that interior temperatures do not dip below 45 degrees during winter weather. Because the winter storms in February overburdened the state’s electrical grid, many counties lost heating, causing pipes to burst. If temperatures dip below 45 degrees because power has gone out, it’s important to shut off water at the source.
Ice accumulation on roofs and overhangs can also damage properties, so counties must perform frequent checks of their counties’ facilities. Dry snow weighs about 7 pounds per cubic foot, and the same volume of wet snow can weigh up to 20 pounds, so proper draining is critical to keeping roofs and overhangs from collapsing. Dammed-up water from snow can also cause roof leaks.
Risk control consultants can help counties develop a winter plan and conduct property assessments. Find your consultant at www.county.org/County-Risk-Management-Map.
Other tips to prepare your people and property for winter weather:
- Clear walking surfaces of snow and ice and spread deicer as quickly as possible after a winter storm to prevent falls.
- Watch for low hanging or damaged power lines due to ice and/or snow buildup.
- Carry a safety kit in your vehicle for emergencies -- flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning signs or devices (such as flares, LED lights) and blankets.
- Always steer into a skid to avoid losing control.
- Be aware of increased stopping distances on snow and ice.
- Vehicle fuel tanks and above-ground fuel storage tanks also require special attention when temperatures drop: Water condensation can occur during a temperature drop leading to fuel contamination that could damage vehicles and other equipment.
- Open the doors to sink cabinets and other areas with water pipes to allow warm air to circulate.
- Inspect fire sprinkler systems, especially those that use antifreeze to protect pipes from freezing. Antifreeze deteriorates over time and needs to be checked to ensure continual protection.
Read more about winterizing your employees and property here.