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State prepared to respond to Winter storm

Governor Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center (SOC) to elevate its readiness level from Level 4 (Normal Conditions) to Level 3 (Increased Readiness) at 8:00 p.m. today as winter weather and cold temperatures are expected to impact much of the state during the next few days. Additionally, Governor Abbott has made available any state resources needed to assist in dealing with the potential impacts of this winter weather system. Governor Abbott encourages Texans to monitor changing weather conditions and heed warnings from local officials.

“The winter weather system sweeping across our state will bring low temperatures and freezing precipitation to many communities, which could create life-threatening situations,” said Governor Abbott. “I urge all Texans to exercise extreme caution in these hazardous conditions. Additionally, the State of Texas will provide any and all state resources necessary to help protect our residents during this weather event.”

The Texas Emergency Management Council agencies reporting to the SOC tonight include:

• Texas Department of Public Safety

• Texas Department of Transportation

• Texas A&M Forest Service

• Texas Military Department

• Texas Department of State Health Services

• Texas Public Utility Commission

• Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Red Cross/Salvation Army)

According to current forecasts, many parts of Texas are expected to experience wintery precipitation this week, including light snow accumulations, freezing rain, and icy conditions.

Texans are urged to follow these winter weather safety tips:

• Monitor local weather broadcasts and follow up-to-the-minute weather conditions, at http://www.weather.gov/.

• If possible, avoid unnecessary travel when sleet, freezing rain or snow is predicted

• If you must travel, allow extra time to reach your destination.

• Monitor road conditions by visiting www.drivetexas.org or by calling 1-800-452-9292.

• On icy roads, drive slowly, increase distance required for stopping, and avoid using cruise control.

• Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power is out, treat all intersections as four-way stops.

• Insulate outside faucets and pipes near outer walls.

• Make sure that furnaces, heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves are clean, well-ventilated and in good working condition.

• To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, NEVER operate generators and other fuel-powered devices inside a home or an enclosed space, such as a garage. The deadly odorless, colorless gas is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned, with sources including motor vehicle engines, generators and fuel-burning appliances or heating systems. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

• Make arrangements for proper shelter and an emergency supply of food and water for your pets and livestock.

• Stock up on firewood and supplies, including canned goods and bottled water.

• If you will be away from home for a long period of time, set your thermostat to 55 degrees or higher and open cabinets under sinks.

• Make sure you have inclement weather contact numbers for schools and work.

• Check on friends and family members whose health or age may put them at greater risk from cold weather.

• Sign up for your local emergency notification system.

During the winter season, residents can contact 2-1-1 Texas, the state’s free 24-hour helpline, to check on possible community-established warming centers or related services in their area. No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905 for community resources.

Visit http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/ThreatAwareness/winterstorm.htm for additional winter weather safety tips.

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