in Emergency Response, GivePulse

Stay Safe Texas: Resources and Guidelines for Winter Storms and Power Outages

The past days have been devastating for many communities in our home state of Texas, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency. As of Thursday morning, hundreds of thousands in Texas remained without power in the aftermath of an unprecedented winter storm. Our own team has been significantly impacted by power outages, water shortages and contamination, and below freezing temperatures. Right now some members of our team are staying at the office, where we are lucky enough to have consistent power; others are bunkering with their friends and neighbors. In tandem, we’re working with the City of Austin, in collaboration with Austin Disaster Relief Network, to provide support for the shelters and warming centers available. 

It’s been tough tackling a pandemic; it’s unprecedented to lose power and water at the same time on this scale. In these times, we want the community to know we are here to support you in any way we can, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As we pick up our vaccination efforts, and we see the temperature showing signs of warming, we know we will come out of this stronger with you. 

In this post, we reflect on some actions we’ve taken personally and at the office that we believe will be important for those also affected by these conditions now and in the future, and how you can access or share resources from anywhere in the country. 

Stay Safe and Warm 

Warmth and safety are the number one priority at this time. Here are some important tips:

  • Wear moisture-wicking material — avoid cotton, which absorbs moisture
  • Wear multiple loose layers to generate warm air pockets 
  • Block doors and windows with towels to decrease drafts 
  • Move into one room and bring everything you need into that room. Seal the room tightly; this will keep any warmth generated by body heat and movement locked into this room 
  • Cars, grills, fuel burning lanterns and generators should not be used in or near the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
  • During the day, uncover windows to allow sunlight in. When the sun has passed the window, block off with towels or heavy blankets to insulate 
  • Consume hot foods and drinks 
  • Layer blankets and bedding 
  • Exercise gently, but not to the point where you sweat 
  • Run your car (away from the garage) for a minute or so each day, and charge your phone from there
  • If your city is on a boil water notice (for example, Austin, our home city), boil any water that comes out of your taps before using
  • Conserve water usage and follow your city’s instructions to avoid pipe bursts

If you do have power, turn off unnecessary appliances to conserve energy and avoid using large appliances. 

Share and Request Resources

Water shortages, difficulties accessing food, and lack of power have led to significant needs for resources. A good portion of our team right now do not have water and are conserving as much as they can. Those with water also are under boil notice! We urge you to connect with neighbors who might have extra sanitary water and resources. We also recommend looking at crowdfunded resource lists, such as the ones here and here, as well as threads that are staying up-to-date with resources. 

As we mentioned above, we are working with the City of Austin to coordinate their response to the community’s needs for the homeless and those without power. To see how you can volunteer and assist, contact us here; to access resources and centers available, visit here

If you have extra supplies, you can donate to mutual aid funds, food banks, and similar organizations. We’ve compiled a list at the bottom of this post. For any organizations hoping to set up a donation drive where you can see needs requests and gather resources in Austin, go here. Other cities, please reach out to us here and we are happy to help. 

Our friends at Good Work Austin’s Community Kitchen also have a donation page here – donations will expand their capacity to produce meals. In the past 6 months, GWA has produced over 300k meals and procured 5 contracts.

Maintaining COVID Safety 

This winter storm has been magnified in some regards due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. We urge you to maintain COVID safety to whatever extent possible, even if you are sharing homes with friends and family to share resources and warmth. Maintain a supply of potable water in containers so you can wash your hands. Wear masks when around those outside of your bubble (this can also help keep your face warmer). If you are leaving your home to gather supplies, maintain physical distancing measures. 

Our team is in this weather with you, and is dedicated to supporting our home community in any way we can. Reach out if you have any questions or need any assistance in setting up pages for donations and resources. Stay warm, and stay safe. 

Additional Organizations to Donate to: