Utility companies and American Red Cross urge El Pasoans to prepare for winter weather


POSTED: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 10:26pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 8:00am

Nature is sending a winter storm our way. Utility companies and the American Red Cross are busy preparing for it and urge you to do the same.

"The freeze of 2011 taught us all valuable lessons about the importance of being prepared for severe weather, for winter weather," said Martin Bartlett, spokesperson for El Paso Water Utilities.

During cold weather, protect your pipes.

Insulate exposed pipes and faucets outside and around your home.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.

"If you do have a pipe that breaks in your home, perhaps the most important thing you can do is stop that flow of water, and the very best way to do that is to go to your meter box at the street and turn off your water. That will stop the water from coming in, that will stop anymore damage from happening," said Bartlett.

Remember to change automatic sprinkler times and don't water plants that don't need it.

The El Paso Electric Company reassures its customers that they are ready for this year's winter storm and do not anticipate any power outages. EP Electric has "freeze protected" and insulated its equipment and circuits.

"We've got systems that are designed to withstand minus 10 degree weather so we're in much better shape then we were in February of 2011. We're much better protected to the lower temperatures today than we were two years ago," said Andy Ramirez, Vice President of El Paso Electric.

The American Red Cross is ready to respond and will open shelters if needed. But they hope people will be prepared and can shelter at home.

The Red Cross suggests you heat your home safely and keep things that can burn 3 feet away from heating equipment.

Stock up on necessities and wear protective clothing. Have 3 days worth of food and water for every family member and dress in several layers of lightweight clothing.

"Your hands and your feet are going to be the most prone for frost bite or to get really cold and numb and we may not even know it before it's too late," said Mark Matthys, Executive Director at American Red Cross El Paso.

Check on your neighbors and bring your pets inside. The Red Cross encourages you to stay indoors during the cold.

"If you do have to go out, please be extremely careful, watch where you're going, watch where you're driving. Make sure you let people know where you're going so just in case you don't show up, they know where to find you," said Matthys.

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