Storm Safety

Here are steps you can take to prepare for outages. GVEC’s Storm Center is designed to provide you with useful and actionable information so you can be ready and stay safe during severe weather.
  • Take shelter inside a building, and stay away from windows and doors.
  • If you are caught outside when a lightning storm approaches, find the lowest spot on the ground, such as a ditch. Get low to the ground, but don’t lay flat. Curl on your side or drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees.
  • Do not take cover near or under any tall, isolated object such as electric poles, trees, or tents. It’s better to stand under a group of trees, shorter than others in the area, than stand in the open. If you’re in a group of people, spread out.
  • Never use electrical devices outside during a lightning storm or when it’s raining.
  • Do not hold metal objects, such as bicycles, golf clubs, or umbrellas.
  • Stay away from anything metal, including metal plumbing.
  • Get off farm machinery.
  • If you’re driving, stay inside the vehicle, but avoid touching any of the interior metal.
  • Do not call or answer calls on phones that have phone cords during a lightning storm.
  • If you’re swimming in any body of water, including a pool, get out of the water right away.
  • Do not go near or touch fallen power lines; call GVEC to report it immediately.
  • Storms can cause widespread power outages and can last for several hours to several days. If you experience an outage, be assured that GVEC crews are working hard to restore your service as quickly as possible.
Emergency Kit

When storms are approaching, you should stockpile some essential supplies in the event a storm or power outage prevents you from leaving your home.

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information and weather updates
  • Extra canned food and water – don’t forget the non-electric can opener
  • Extra blankets or sleeping bags
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel such as wood for a fireplace or kerosene if the electricity goes out – just remember to use these fuel sources properly to prevent fires and have proper ventilation
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector – be sure to test them regularly to ensure they are working properly

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Lightning Safety

Lightning strikes kill more Americans than tornadoes or hurricanes. When there is an electrical storm, take precautions against lightning, even if the thunderstorm is not directly overhead.

  • Move to low ground.
  • Avoid open fields.
  • Stay away from isolated trees, towers or utility poles.
  • Do not seek shelter under a tree. Trees are easy targets for lightning.
  • At the beach, or in a swimming pool, get out of the water immediately.
  • Go inside a building and stay away from windows and doors.
  • Stay away from metal objects.
  • Avoid electric appliances and metal plumbing.
  • Get off the phone.
  • Do not touch metal objects, such as golf clubs or bicycles.
  • Inside a car is relatively safe, but don’t touch interior metal.
  • If your hair stands on end, you may be a target. Crouch low on the balls of your feet and try not to touch the ground with your knees or hands.
  • Stay aware and play it safe during thunderstorms. Don’t be a lightning rod.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Flood safety

Don’t mess with floods. Flooding is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in Texas. The simple decisions you make can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Never drive through water on a road. It can be deeper than it appears. Floodwaters can damage roadways, creating invisible sinkholes or washed out bridges.
  • Quickly leave your car if it stalls in water. Water displaces 1,500 pounds of weight for every foot it rises. It takes only 2 feet of water to push a 3,000-pound car downstream.
  • Don’t attempt to walk through rapidly running water. As little as 6 inches can knock adults off their feet.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car, including a flashlight with extra batteries, drinking water and a battery-operated radio.
  • If you have a cell phone, program the number for police or fire department rescue.
  • Take the high road when it comes to flood safety. Your life depends on it.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Tornado Safety

More tornadoes strike Texas than any other state. Sophisticated warning systems exist, but they’re no substitute for preparedness and smart action.

  • At home or in the office, go to the lowest floor. Stay away from windows.
  • Go to a place in the center of the building, such as a closet, bathroom or interior hallway. Protect your head with a pillow.
  • If you live in a mobile home, go outside. Lie down in a ditch or low spot. Cover your head with your arms.
  • If you’re in a car, get out. Never try to outrun a tornado. Take shelter in the nearest building, or lie face down in a ditch with your arms over your head.
  • Know the difference between a “warning” and a “watch.”
  • Tornado Watch: Conditions are right for a tornado. Watch the sky.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been spotted. Take cover immediately.

Tornadoes kill. Know what to do to avoid weather-related tragedy.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Hurricane Safety

Any time a hurricane approaches the Texas coast, you’re likely to be reminded to take precautions. But the time for planning should begin well before hurricane season arrives.

  • Develop a plan for installing covers for windows.
  • Don’t waste time taping windows. When a 100 mph wind blows an object at your window, tape won’t stop it.
  • Remove weak and dead trees and tree limbs on your property.
  • Know whether your home is in a zone that could be flooded.
  • Have a “grab and run” bag ready with important papers (like your homeowner’s insurance policy) and prescription medicines in the event you have to evacuate.
  • Have a plan in place for where you will go if you evacuate, the route you will take, and how others can contact you.
  • Have a survival kit ready with nonperishable food, water, a first-aid kit and other things you may need.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio handy. And don’t forget the extra batteries.
  • Don’t hesitate to evacuate, especially if you are living in a manufactured home or a house that may not be sturdy enough to stand up to the wind.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Find more tips for hurricane safety at

Winter storm safety

Although much of the state is unaccustomed to snow and ice, temperatures can fall below freezing even in South Texas. Wet snow and ice snap tree branches and cause electric lines to sag.

  • Report any outages immediately – 800.223.4832.
  • Turn off electrical appliances that were operating at the time the power went off, including your heating system. Leave one light on so you’ll know when service has been restored.
  • Keep warm by closing off rooms you don’t need and use only safe sources of heat, like a wood stove. Do not burn charcoal indoors—it releases carbon monoxide, which is deadly. If you operate lanterns or fuel-fired cook stoves or heaters, make sure that you have adequate ventilation to keep harmful fumes from accumulating.
  • Practice generator safety if using one.  Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as it can “backfeed” electricity and cause harm to GVEC linemen working to restore your electricity.
  • Stay away from any downed power line. Always assume it is energized, even if it is not sparking or buzzing.
  • If a vehicle is touching a power line, the occupants should stay inside the car and call 911 from their cell phone.
  • If a power line is on the ground, DO NOT go near it.  Shuffle your feet to move away from a downed power line, making sure not to allow your feet to break contact with the ground.

Ice storms are more than a nuisance—they can be deadly!

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Staying safe after a storm

If you lose power, leave on a single light to alert you when electric service is restored. To prevent fires, please use flashlights during power outages as opposed to burning candles.

  • Turn off or unplug any appliance that would turn on automatically when power is restored (stoves, washers, dryers and air conditioners).
  • Be sure to unplug sensitive electronics such as computers, radios and TVs to prevent damage from sudden power failures.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer can keep food safe for 48 hours. Do not eat food that has been at room temperature more than two hours.
  • If the power is back on for your neighbors, but yours is still out, check for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse.
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines and avoid tree limbs and debris as they could be electrified by hidden downed power lines.
  • Do not use electric yard tools to clean up if it is raining or the ground is wet. Pile your debris away from utility poles or other electric devices.
  • Report all downed lines immediately to GVEC by contacting us at 800.223.4832, or call 911.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Electric heater safety

Space heaters are meant to provide supplemental heat, not to replace your home’s heating system. In fact, if used incorrectly, space heaters can pose fire and burn risks.

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s warnings and the use and care guidelines before using a space heater.
  • Space heaters need space. Keep them at least 3 feet away from any combustible material such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture, and rugs.
  • Never use space heaters around unsupervised children and pets.
  • Always turn the heater off and unplug it when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Plug space heaters directly into an outlet; do not use an extension cord.
  • Electric space heaters use a lot of electricity. Plug your heater into a circuit with as little else on it as possible.
  • Space heaters should be used only for supplemental heat. Don’t use them to dry clothing, cook food, thaw pipes, or warm bedding.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Generator Safety

Many people turn to portable generators for temporary electric power in the even their electricity goes out. By properly installing and using portable generators, you can avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock or electrocution, and fire.

  • DO NOT plug the generator into a wall outlet. Portable generators “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public. Plug appliances directly into the generator.

  • Carbon Monoxide or “CO” is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if breathed.
  • Never use a generator indoors, including homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially enclosed area, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup in the home. Be sure to install a carbon monoxide alarm to monitor this invisible danger.

  • Never store fuel for your generator in the home. If the fuel spills or the container is not sealed properly, invisible vapors from the fuel can travel along the ground and can be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Alternative heat safety

When severe weather like ice hits and knocks out the power, alternative heating can keep you warm for days. Safe emergency heating like those below can keep at least one room of your house warm enough to be livable.

  • A fireplace with ample supply of wood
  • Small, well ventilated wood, coal or camp stove with fuel
  • Portable space heater or kerosene heater

It is important that you follow manufacturer’s operating instructions and use emergency heating equipment properly to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Make sure to keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Downed power line safety

Weather and car accidents are the main causes of downed power lines. Always stay away and warn others to stay clear of power lines. Even if they don’t hum, spark or “dance,” downed lines can be dangerous—they can carry an electric current strong enough to cause serious injury or even death.

  • If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.
  • The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times to minimize the chance for a human path of electric current.
  • If someone is in direct or indirect contact with the downed line, do not touch the person. Call 911 instead.
  • Don’t try to move a downed power line or anything in contact with the line by using another object such as a broom or stick.
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines.
  • If you are in your car and it is in contact with a downed line, stay in your car. Honk your horn for help but tell others to stay away from your vehicle. Call 911 if you have a cell phone or ask a passerby to do it.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

Protect your water pipes

Although we only have a few cold snaps each season, it is still necessary to protect exposed water pipes to prevent freezing. Leaving pipes unprotected or uninsulated can cause them to burst, which can significantly damage your home and the things inside it. Water pipes in crawl spaces, attics, and garages are all susceptible to freezing.

  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and then wrap in plastic.
  • Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Make sure you know where the main water valve is and how to shut it off in case a pipe does burst.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
Don’t forget your neighbors

Although our winter season is limited in South Texas, the area still runs the risk for wintery weather, particularly icy conditions. Even if temperatures rise quickly after a winter storm, damage and power outages may last for several days.

  • Check on neighbors who may require special assistance. Infants, elderly, homebound people, and people with disabilities are most susceptible to cold weather.
  • If you have a neighbor that is elderly, homebound, or has small children, take time to check on them to ensure they have adequate heating, clothing, and food to endure a power outage.

This information is provided as a general reference only and is subject to change without notice.

For more information and web videos on how to get prepared for any natural disaster, visit one of these Emergency Preparedness online resources:
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