Texans warned against taking dangerous measures to stay warm during power outages


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The ongoing power outage in Texas has many looking for different ways to stay warm, but that could put you and others at risk.

On Tuesday morning in Austin, about 40% of Austin Energy Customers were without power and many others in the area have been in the dark and cold for well over 24 hours.

Some are getting desperate to stay warm.

The Austin Fire Department is urging people not to burn charcoal indoors as a source of heat. Crews responded to four toxic exposure calls Monday due to potential carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal fumes.

Jake Nuncio, who lives in south Austin, lost power at 1 a.m. on Monday morning. He expected the power to come back on after about an hour, but it didn’t. Worried about his newborn baby, he gathered his family and drove to his aunt’s house.

“It was literally 30 degrees in our house, and we had our baby bundled and stuff like that, but it got to the point where it was just too dangerous for us to stay there with our little one,” said Nuncio.

Martin Bauer lost power at his home in Allandale on Monday morning. As the temperatures dropped inside his home he decided to drive to his parents’ house.

“We couldn’t maintain a decent temperature in the house, and fortunately, my folks had power, so we migrated over here,” he said. “We wanted to get here during the day instead of waiting and making the trip at night when it would be more difficult.”

Days before the power outages, state leaders warned of the potential dangers of other heating sources.

“Every time we have power losses, we lose people to carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a silent killer,” said Texas Department of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. “Please help us get the message out. Do not burn gas-burning appliances inside your home. If you are going to use some sort of heater outside, make sure it’s away from windows that may be open drawing that carbon monoxide in.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should also avoid using portable gas camp stoves indoors in addition to other gasoline, propane and natural gas devices inside a home.

They also say never leave your car running in a closed garage.

And you also shouldn’t use your stove or oven to try to stay warm. They’re not designed for it.

Space heaters are also a big fire risk. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are linked to space heaters.

As of late Monday night, more than 4 million Texans were without power and heat.

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