The City of San Antonio will begin distributing a new Winter Weather Preparedness Guide for residents this week as temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.
While the same kind of extreme, prolonged temperature drops seen in 2021 during Winter Storm Uri — which left hundreds of thousands of residents without water, electricity or both for days — are not currently forecast, officials are encouraging residents to be prepared.
The guide includes information on how to read official warnings and advisories, how to prepare your home, what to wear, an emergency kit checklist, how to identify the signs of hypothermia and other material aimed at keeping residents safe, Deputy City Manager María Villagómez told a City Council committee Tuesday.
“Our goal … is to make sure that community is prepared [and has] the tools and the supplies in place if there was another weather event that will prevent them from leaving their house for several days,” she said.
Printed guides in English and Spanish will be available at public libraries, community/senior centers, City Council offices and other city facilities. The guide is available to download at the Office of Emergency Management’s website.
“Instead of re-creating the wheel,” Villagómez said, the guide pulls relevant information about how to prepare, survive, and recover from a big freeze from the city’s Ready South Texas app, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The city will also hand-deliver nearly 70,000 door hangars, which feature an emergency kit checklist in English and Spanish, to neighborhoods that lack access to the internet.
“We have looked at areas of the city where we have neighborhoods where the digital divide is much higher than in other parts of our city,” Villagómez said. “So this is going to be focused on neighborhoods on the east, the west and the south.”
She also highlighted the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, which has more than 4,100 area residents signed up for alerts and special attention during emergencies. The registry is intended for people with disabilities, lack of transportation, or who otherwise require additional medical assistance during an emergency event.
The city plans to rent several generators and set up warming centers across the city as needed this winter, Villagómez said.
San Antonio Water System has launched an online Be Ready for the Unexpected guide with infographics and how-to videos in English and Spanish. CPS Energy has a list of winter tips on its Winter Preparedness page.
Weather extremes will likely only get worse as global warming accelerates due to human activity, climate scientists say. Over the last 40 years, Texas’ 100-degree-plus-days have doubled. Scientists were more mixed about the influence of climate change on Winter Storm Uri.
The city’s 2022 budget included $8.5 million for resiliency efforts, including purchasing generators for public safety facilities, establishing resiliency hubs across the city that will be activated in an emergency, enhancing communication and education and some improvements to public safety facilities.
Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), who called for the guide to be created, said a similar guide should be created for summer heat emergencies — or perhaps a combined, year-round emergency guide.
“We are going to be creating a ‘stay healthy and safe during the summer’ guide that will be developed by April of 2022,” Villagómez responded.