Power Outages in Texas
According to ClimateCentral.org Texas is one of six states with the highest number of reported power outages caused by weather conditions. The most recent incident occurred in February 2021, resulting in widespread power failures.
The big crisis started on February 13 when electricity had issues. The following day people were asked to use less energy. However, the Texas power grid couldn't keep up, so the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) started with the controlled outages. Unfortunately, that didn’t help, and, at some point, millions of people lost electrical power.
Winter Storm Uri will be remembered as one of the most challenging events that hit Texas, causing freezing conditions, unfortunate loss of lives among Texans, and leaving more than 5 million people without power in the most horrible circumstances. The events of Winter Storm Uri highlighted the vital importance of being prepared for unexpected power outages.
Understanding Texas' Power Grid
Before we share our tips that will help you prepare for a possible Houston, Texas power outage, here’s what you need to know about the Texas power grid. While all other states depend on either the Western Interconnection or the Eastern Interconnection, Texas has the Texas Interconnection.
Texans get power through the unique power grid managed by ERCOT. Almost 90% of Texans rely on this grid that works mostly on natural gas steam and wind turbines. You can also choose an energy company as this state has a regulated electricity market, and choose among the best electricity plans in Texas. When the winter storm hit Texas in 2021, the whole system failed because gas was not protected from freezing conditions and wind turbines were not winterized.
How do you prepare for a power surge?
Power outages can be short ones and cause little inconveniences but also major ones that might require leaving the area. One of the first things you should do to ensure preparedness for a power surge is to have a family emergency plan. Create a plan with your family members ensuring everyone is familiar with the details, such as travel routes and closest shelters. Also, make sure you have digital copies of all important documents.
How do you deal with a power outage?
There’s no one-size-fits-all once a power outage occurs, but having an emergency kit is a good starting point. A basic emergency kit should include essentials, such as enough non-perishable food and water. Safety comes first, so keep a first-aid kit close to you and fully equipped. In case of using medication that has to be stored in a refrigerator, you should find a solution for that. The next thing that every emergency kit should have is a flashlight and enough batteries. Also, enough winter clothes, blankets, and winter shoes should be available for use.
What is the first thing you do when the power goes out?
Usually, you will get a heads-up before the power goes out in your area. However, sometimes, bad weather can cause unplanned power outages. If you sit in your living room and suddenly find yourself in the darkness, the logical question you might ask is: Why did my power go out? The first thing you should do is to check if the power is off only in your house or in the whole neighborhood. If you don’t see lights in other homes, then it’s the right time to activate your power outage plan.
Try to find out what is happening and why there’s no electricity in your area. If the reason is severe weather conditions, it’s most likely that the roads are not clean and safe for traveling. You should stay at home and avoid traveling if it’s not necessary.
It's really important to stay updated with weather conditions and power outages. There is a Texas power outage map where you can track the most recent power outage information. Try getting apps that give you updates and sign up for local alerts. It’s very convenient to have a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit.
How to prepare your home for power outages
There are several things that you can do to prepare your home for power outages. Before the winter starts, you should insulate outdoor pipes to prevent freezing. Also, you should learn how to open your garage doors manually. In case of power outages, your car will be stuck inside if you don’t know how to open it.
After a power outage, when electricity is coming back, there's often a chance of voltage spikes and power surges. The sudden increases in power can destroy your electronic devices. The best thing you can do to protect your appliances is to use a surge protection plan.
How to prepare for a power outage - what else you can do?
Power outages can be very stressful for a majority of people, so you should also check on your neighbors and see if they need anything. In case of a Power outage in Texas during a winter storm, check the closest emergency shelters. Maybe you will need to find a warm place for a few days, so don’t forget to bring extra blankets, clothes, and food supplies with you. If you’re leaving your home for a few days, remember to turn off unnecessary appliances and lock all doors and windows. If you have a home protection plan, damage caused by high voltage can be taken care of.
How do I check the status of my power outage in Houston?
If you're experiencing a power outage in Houston, especially if it's due to a storm, you can check the status through Oncor's storm center map.
In conclusion, when facing a Texas power outage, being prepared is a must. Using valuable resources, like online power outage maps, will help you stay informed and organize your next steps. Our blog offers many useful tips on how to prepare for a power outage in winter and stay safe inside your home.