Safety and Preparedness Tips

SMTXU Safety and Preparedness

Winter Preparedness

Although Central Texas winters are mild, we can still experience freezing temperatures, ice, and snow which can cause electric outages. In these events, planning ahead is the best thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe. Stay ahead of winter weather with the tips below.

 You can also sign up for local alerts and warnings

Prepare Now

Be prepared for inclement weather before it happens. If you don't have an emergency fit already, now is the time to make one. Include the following items in your kit, and keep it stocked, up to date, and in a designated spot that is easily accessible. 

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Nonperishable food 
  • Blankets
  • Matches
  • First-air supplies
  • Medications (over-the-counter and prescription)
  • Pet supplies
  • Battery banks for charging devices
  • All-weather radio
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Air-activated heat packs
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A list of important numbers, including your SMTX Utilities account number. Don't forget about the SMTX Utilities outage map where you can report outages and receive outage notifications.

Before A Storm

If temperatures drop and forecasts begin to show cold weather or a wintry mix, you may want to have these ready and on-hand in addition to your emergency kit.

  • Charged cell phones and extra cords for charging phones, tablets, and other electronic devices
  • Additional firewood
  • Coats, hats, gloves, and warm clothes
  • An additional heating source, such as a generator
  • Extra fuel for vehicles

Prepare Your Home

  • Insulate external water lines on your water heater to help keep your pipes warm and save money on heating water
  • Remove and store garden hoses, and cover exposed water lines and spigots
  • Falling, icy tree branches are a common cause of property damage and power outages if they are touching or near power lines, call 512-393-8313 to see if you are in services for the City of San Marcos to trim your tree limbs that may be a hazard
  • Check the weatherstripping on your windows and doors, and seal leaks with caulk or replacement stripping
  • Check the HVAC filter at least once a month and replace it when it's dirty
  • Develop a plan with your family in case of prolonged outages (where and when to seek shelter if needed)

During A Storm

  • Our updated outage map allows utility customers to search in real time for their address to see if their outage is registered, the status, and the estimated time of restoration is one is available
  • SMTX Utilities will provide updates whenever possible on our website and City of San Marcos social media channels, so be sure to like and follow for potential energy conservation, outage, and weather alerts: 

Protect Your Home

  • Keep your faucets on a slow drip to keep pipes from freezing. Catch the dripping water in a clean container, sink, or tub to use if your water system is impacted. If your pipes freeze, turn off the main water supply to prevent further damage
  • Pick the lowest temperature you’re comfortable with and set your thermostat there — 68 degrees or lower is recommended. When you’re not home, keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees
  • Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight
  • If you experience an outage, keep lights and appliances off to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored. Instead, leave only one light on as a signal, so that you know when your power returns
  • If you have an additional heating source, like a fireplace, be sure that it’s clean and working properly before using it

    Remember these important winter storm safety tips:  
    • Don’t use your stove or oven for heat. Gas stoves and ovens produce carbon monoxide, and electric ones pose a fire risk when not used as designed
    • Don’t run your car in the garage as a way of warming up. Only run the car outside, and before you start it, make sure that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and debris. Taking these steps could save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Never run a generator closer than 20 feet from doors and windows to prevent fumes from entering the home

Protect Your Family

  • Don’t use your stove or oven for heat. Gas stoves and ovens produce carbon monoxide, and electric ones pose a fire risk when not used as designed
  • Don’t run your car in the garage as a way of warming up. Only run the car outside, and before you start it, make sure that the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and debris. Taking these steps could save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Never run a generator closer than 20 feet from doors and windows to prevent fumes from entering the home.
  • Watch weather reports closely. Keep your all-weather radio nearby and listen to local media reports for the most up-to-date weather and safety information
  • Keep a close watch on the temperature in your home and check it often. If outages are prolonged, consider staying with friends, family, or in a local shelter
  • Keep these important safety tips in mind when using your generator and always practice safety when using alternative heat sources
  • Bring pets inside your home, and provide blankets, shelter, and water for livestock
  • If you are able, check on elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends to make sure they’re safe, especially if they live alone

SMTX Utilities is dedicated to providing reliable electric service to keep you and your family safe. While some events are beyond our control, we work hard to ensure that we are as prepared as possible. 

Power Outage Tips

Power outages or service interruptions can occur for a variety of reasons including weather events like lightning strikes to equipment or wind blowing trees and limbs into power lines, vehicle accidents involving power poles, lines, and equipment, unexpected equipment failure, and animal contacts to lines. Use the following tips during a power outage:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed
  • Use a generator, but ONLY outdoors and away from windows
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges
  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about what you may be able to do to keep it running during a power outage. You can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.  If you are on dialysis or other life-sustaining medical treatment know the location and availability of more than one facility that can help you
  • Check with local officials about heating and cooling locations open near you
  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture
  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise
How to Stay Safe When a Power Outage Threatens