From the mayor…
Over the next few days, we are expected to experience some of the coldest temperatures in a decade. As the frigid air arrives, I want to urge all of you to take steps to prepare. Below are some very common sense tips that will help you and your family. Please also be mindful of your neighbors. Check on them and pass along this information. The good news is that this type of weather never lasts long in Houston.
Annise D. Parker
The Houston Fire Department Urges You to Make your Home Heater Safe
As the temperature drops, Houston Fire Department officials urge citizens to follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters and other supplemental heating sources. Heating devices cause more than 100 fires in the City of Houston each year, resulting in numerous injuries and possible death.
Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater.
Keep all combustible materials and yourself at least 3 feet from the heater.
If you use a gas heater the flame should be blue or your heater is generating carbon monoxide which is very dangerous.
Central heating units should be inspected annually.
The department recommends that you make sure you have both a working carbon monoxide and a working smoke alarm in your home. Visit www.houstonfire.org for more information.
Public Works and Engineering Department Urges You to Prepare for Cold Weather on the Road and at Home
Know your vehicle and how it operates. All vehicles don’t respond in the same way to icy roads. Being aware of how your vehicles maneuvers in various weather conditions is important.
Maintain a good distance from vehicles in front of you. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as normal driving conditions.
Slow down before reaching an intersection. Though one may have the right-of-way, one should scan all directions for vehicles and pedestrians.
Never brake while driving on ice. If you are approaching an icy road, brake during your approach. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice may potentially cause skidding.
Finally, always buckle up, add additional time to your commute, and use extra caution when driving on icy roads.
For information on how to prepare your pipes from freezing, visit http://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/resource/ucs/freezing.htm
Public Works and Engineering Department (PWE) is Preparing for Cold Temperatures throughout the City
Fifteen dump trucks are available to be fitted with sand spreaders capable of spreading “chat rock” on streets. Each truck holds between 6 – 12 cubic yards of a material. When dispatched, PWE trucks will lay a thin layer of chat rock on icy roadways. The chat rock provides improved traction on the roadways. PWE has several tons of chat rock available, if needed.
City crews will be on standby to address any calls received through the City’s 3-1-1 Service Helpline for icy roads and bridges in the City of Houston limits. PWE staffers will monitor the weather and the roadway conditions continuously as well as coordinate efforts with Police, Fire, and EMS to determine which parts of the city need attention.
If motorists encounter icy roads, they can report it by calling the City’s 3-1-1 Service Helpline (dial 713-837-0311).
Visit the National Weather Service website for up to date weather bulletins at www.noaa.gov and type in Houston, Texas or go to: http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Houston&state=TX&site=HGX&textField1=29.7687&textField2=-95.3867&e
General Services Department (GSD) is Preparing for Cold Temperatures within City Facilities
Boilers are running to keep interiors warm so that piping and wall cavities receive radiant heat to keep them above the freezing point.
Building equipment that is exposed to freezing is checked regularly.
Insulation is being applied to exterior piping as needed.
De-icing materials are being used on exterior stairways, walkways, loading docks and parking areas.
All GSD emergency equipment is being checked to ensure proper operation.
GSD staff is on standby to make adjustments as conditions warrant.
Help is Available for the Homeless
Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless will activate its plan to help encourage many of the people living on Houston’s streets to seek shelter as Houston area temperatures dip below freezing over the next several days. Houston Police and outreach teams from the Star of Hope Mission will encourage those on the streets to seek boarding at one of the many shelters in the Houston area. Outreach teams from SEARCH Homeless Services will provide blankets, coats and other items to help keep warm those who refuse to move indoors.
The Star of Hope, The Salvation Army and the Bread of Life facility at St. John’s Church are just a few of the shelters that will provide mats, cots and any space available to provide shelter.
If help is needed, through a partnership with crisis intervention, people can call 2-1-1.