Historic Texas Freeze Creates Dangerous Situations for Katy Families


February 16, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Sub-freezing temperatures and power outages are creating dangerous situations for Katy families as they desperately try to create heat. Residents need to know how to properly stay warm and avoid house fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, crime, and other dangers related to this epic weather event.

Photo courtesy: Chris Harris

Millions Without Power, Families Desperate to Stay Warm

4.3 million Texas homes are without power. Families throughout the state are desperately trying to stay warm in these sub-freezing temperatures. However, authorities warn residents to remain safe while trying to stay warm.

Fire Departments See Increased Calls

“We’ve been getting around 105 calls per a 24-hour period,” says Jason Tharp, Division Chief of Community Risk Reduction and Public Information Officer for Harris County ESD No. 48 Fire Department. “On a normal day we get 25-35 calls for fire and EMS.”

Like many area fire departments, they are working to respond to all calls, but residents can expect a lengthier response times due to hazardous road conditions.

As residents resort to using their cars, grills, and generators to stay warm, they should heed the warnings from authorities about carbon monoxide risks. Houston has already reported multiple deaths and hospitalizations due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Only use a generator outdoors and far from open windows and vents,” says Tharp. “Never use a generator indoors, in garages or carports, and never cook inside on a charcoal or gas grill.”

Many Katy homes have fireplaces that are rarely used or haven’t been serviced in years, which can present a fire hazard. While many homes are without power, residents are using the fireplace for their primary heat source. Last night, first responders reported to, and contained, a chimney fire in a Falcon Point home.

“Always keep the flue open to avoid smoke backing up in the house,” says Tharp. “Keep everything at least three feet from the fire and keep a close eye on pets. They tend to be curious especially when our fireplaces don’t see as much use here.”