Our extreme winter adventure in Texas during temps down to -1 and how we coped and what we wished we knew or did to prepare.
This is what we faced. We knew cold weather was coming but no one realized the electric grid would have issues. We ended up with power for 30 minutes every hour for a few days (which coming on and off kept us up at night) though we were blessed to have that much electric so we could keep the things in our frig and we could recharge the batteries.
When power was out our cell phones did not have good signal and you could not carry on a normal phone call conversation as the audio would go in and out.
The hardware stores sold out of anything that could help (like insulation,
heater tape etc.) Not that heater tape or heated hoses do any good
The freezing weather made it unbearably cold, the roads icy and eventually the water levels low enough in the city for there to only be a trickle from the tap and a boil water advisory was issued.
The grocery stores closed, the gas stations ran out of gas, propane was hard to find (in part because without power places closed.) We waited at Loves for over an hour waiting for them to pump propane in a line with at least 30 others, after being told by the Loves attendant that they didn't even know when/if propane would be delivered to the Loves itself (as they couldn't get through to the propane delivery company on the phone.)
Things we are glad we did:
Had a two week supply (2 cans per person per day) of canned soup, paper bowls, and plastic spoons under the bed. The stores still aren't open due to the brown out and boil water advisory. (I put this in place after being sick earlier in the year and unable to cook or do dishes.)
Bought 8 gallons of drinking water, plus a case of 16 ounce bottles.
Had REALLY good winter coats (however my mittens were nothing against this weather.)
Filled up on propane, and topped it off as we could. Had a backup propane tank as well.
Bought a RV with a arctic package so that we had tank heaters for the grey and black tanks (although without electricity...let's just say when I finally got the grey tanks to open there were chunks of ice...CHUNKS)
Had a solar device to keep our cell phones charged. That was a bit of peace of mind that at least they wouldn't go completely dead. This is one for illustration purposes that I found on Amazon, which is much better than the one we have.
Things that broke or didn't work in the freezing temperatures:
The grey and black tanks stuck closed (but thankfully we did not end up with a sewer hose popsicle (where the entire sewer hose freeze solid through), which we have been through before...) Although after a few days we started to worry about not being able to run water if there's no place left for it to go.
The water pumps refused to turn on after a while (I'm glad it came back on after the temperatures warmed up and have heard tales of them cracking and needing to be replaced entirely.)
The battery nearly died (remember we were in brown outs off and on and we made a mistake.)
The heater water hose froze (later we figured out our mistake.)
What we'd do differently:
Have better mittens.
Buy more propane. Perhaps even renting a large tank to get us through the cold snap
Buy more water. It seemed silly at the time to buy any, since we had filled our fresh tank, but once the water pump stopped working we lost our access to that water.
Insulate the battery compartment, to possibly help the tank valves not freeze and the water pump to continue to work.
Consider skirting the RV. The expense and the bulk (storage when not needed) of skirting has to this point stopped us.
Be aware of where the heater hose thermostat is (ours was in the basement) so that the hose knows it is cold outside.
Plug the heater hose into the camper, not the campsite pedestal. That way when the electric turned off (brown out) and we ran the generator the heater hose would still be heating.
Have wet wipes and dry shampoo to at least be able to feel cleaner between chances for a shower.
Put RV safe antifreeze down the grey tanks.
Insulate the propane bottles because although it didn't freeze it stops flowing the same when really cold making us switch out tanks that had some propane still in them but wouldn't flow properly. Had they been insulated we may have had to change them less often and had to make less trips to wait in the cold for propane.
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