Much of Texas has begun rolling blackouts due to extreme cold weather conditions. The rolling blackouts include Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley. They do not include the El Paso area, the Texas Panhandle, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana), and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, and the Woodlands. The rolling blackouts are part of an emergency plan across these regions, whether or not your particular community has enough power being generated to meet its own demand. Outages should last no longer than 45 minutes, per ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas who oversees power supplies in Texas). These emergency measures are planned to help avoid even longer and wider spread power outages.
However, we Texans are simply not accustomed to these temperatures, these icy conditions or these rolling blackouts. Here are some tips for staying safe & staying happy:
#1): Back up computer data regularly. If you are working on projects at home, save them each step of the way. If you can, turn off or disconnect appliances or electronic devices that you don’t need to save them the stress.
#2): Charge your cell phone when the power is on. That way, during your black-out period, there will be no problem communicating with friends, family and clients.
#3): Choose a good book to read. With rolling black-outs, you will have plenty of reading time, so put it to good use!
#4): Try to schedule opening the refrigerator & freezer for times when the power is on. Food in a half-full freezer is reported to last a full day, so there should be no problem during rolling black-outs, but just be smart about opening & closing.
#5): Limit your electricity consumption to help the situation in whatever small way you can. Turn off lights, close doors, block drafts and help your heater work efficiently.
#6): Due to icy conditions, it is best to stay at home. But if you must venture out, remember that traffic signals are also affected by black-outs and approach all intersections with caution. Older stoplights return to operation with a blinking red light that must be re-set by hand at the location – newer stoplights return to full functionality. Remember, that a blinking red light means every direction comes to a full stop, person who arrived first has the right of way, or the person on the right. This is an additional complication for drivers in an already stressful driving situation.
#7): Take extra care with fireplaces, heaters, etc. Emergency services are in extremely high demand already!
#8): Be patient and aware. Current rolling black-outs are affecting many. This includes schools, businesses, the elderly, travelers, etc. If you are not truly in an emergency situation, then try to just ride out the next couple of days and enjoy the slower pace the situation can provide.