Winterizing Your Home

How do you winterize your home? Protecting your home can be as easy as remembering the Five P’s for the winter. People, Pets, Pipes, Plants, and Pool. Making sure everyone in your family is safe from the cold including our furry family members. It is important family and friends follow this guide to stay safe during the winter.

People

During cold snaps it’s important to remember to cover your head and extremities as they are the most likely to suffer from the cold. Keep your home warm and comfortable, and if you have two stories, follow the heat and be smart about warm and cold zones. Avoid going outside when possible, and keep appropriate extra clothing with you if you need to go outside.

Pets

Bring pets indoors! If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet! Pets are smaller than us and have less overall body heat, therefore are more likely to succumb to hypothermia despite their fur. Bundle your dog or cat in sweaters and add extra blankets to their bed. Insulate the outdoor pet areas and create warm areas for your dog or cat.

Pipes

When water freezes, it expands and can cause broken pipes and result in costly bills from the lost water. Open kitchen cabinets and bathroom sinks to allow warm air to reach the pipes. This can help prevent pipes from freezing and causing damage that leads to costly repairs. Disconnect drain hoses from outdoor spigots. Home improvement stores usually offer protective coverings for outdoor pipes. If you have an irrigation system, make sure your lines are cleared of water. Most irrigation specialists offer a blowout service to clear the line of standing water to ensure the prevention of costly damage.

Irrigation shut off valves and backflow devices often cause the most common issues during a hard freeze. Not all irrigation systems are the same. On most common irrigation systems, these steps may be taken:

  1. Turn off the shut-off valve. Most residential devices have two shut-off valves. These are typically covered in blue on the valve handles and located before and after the back flow device.
  2. Release the water pressure, with a screwdriver release the water from the bleeder valves (circled in black on the image). The bleeder valves are usually located under the top of the backflow device. If the water does not stop flowing, you may not have shut the valves off completely.
  3. Leave the smaller bleeder valve open, this will let the any remaining water in the line expand without breaking the device.

Plants

Insulating, fertilizing, and watering are the best ways to prepare your plants for winter cold snaps. Cover large plants with sheets to protect and insulate them from the cold and insulate the roots with fallen leaves or bark. Use fertilizer designed for cold weather to nourish your plants, and water plants a couple times a week to prepare them for cold season. Cold plants don’t always need as much water as they do in the summer, so keep an eye on soil moisture levels during the winter just as you would the summer.

Pool

Running the pumps 24/7 is an important step in keeping the water circulating and preventing freezing. Frequently clean debris from the skimmer and talk with your pool specialist about winterizing and any chemical alterations that may be required for your pool.

Extra Safety Tips:

  • Always keep your gas tanks full.
  • Check tire pressures and ensure they are at the right pressure.
  • Always keep blankets, jumper cables, and a phone charger in the car in case of emergency.
  • Check local road conditions at www.houstontranstar.org. State highway information is also available at www.drivetexas.org.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended.
  • Don’t overload outlets or breakers.
  • Do not power space heaters with extension cords or power strips.
  • Do not leave candles or the fireplace burning unattended.
  • Always turn off space heaters when unattended or going to sleep.
  • Never use an oven or stove to keep your home warm.

Happy Holidays!

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Home Safety Tips for Resident Holiday Travel

Holidays are a prime time for vacations. Unfortunately, it is also a prime time for residential burglaries. This is due to lawbreakers preying on traveling families and homes that seem to be empty for extended periods of time.

Below are some helpful ideas to protect your home and deter criminals:

  • Set up home security cameras with motion sensors and bright lighting. Set these up with random timers to keep thieves from detecting a pattern.
  • Keep the exterior of your home clear with open spaces.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Neighbors are much more likely to notice suspicious activity within the neighborhood and report it.
  • Put your mail on hold with USPS Hold Mail. This will keep your confidential information in a safe place till you return (for up to 30 days).

    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Hold-Mail-The-Basics

  • Set up a Vacation Watch with Fort Bend Constable office so they can monitor your home while you are out of town.

The link provided below will guide you through the set-up process:

https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departments/constables/constable-precinct-4/patrol-division/vacation-watch-program

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Fighting F.O.G. – Protecting Our Homes, Environment, and Budget from Fat, Oil, and Grease

Many Fort Bend MUD 128 residents have been cooking at home far more than they had previously, and this comes with a certain amount of cooking waste. Something we don’t normally think about are the effects of fat, oils, and grease (F.O.G.) clogs in the sanitary sewer system. F.O.G. can solidify in the sanitary sewer pipes, causing clogs, blockages, and backups.

What is F.O.G. (pronounced like “fog”)?

F.O.G. is an acronym for Fat, Oil and Grease.  It is harmful to the internal drainage inside the home, the District drainage infrastructure and the environment.

F.O.G. comes from a variety of food sources, either as an ingredient of OR a byproduct of food preparation.

Examples of F.O.G.:

  • Fats found in meats through cooking and food scraps.
  • cooking oil, lard or shortening
  • butter or margarine
  • bacon and sausage grease
  • mayonnaise
  • salad dressing and gravy
  • dairy products, such as but not limited to milk, yogurt and cheese

When these items are poured down the drain, it can accumulate and harden inside sewer pipes causing blockages, backups, and overflows.  When these failures occur, it can release raw sewage into the environment which then enters our drainage channels that lead into the bayous, creeks, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. This raw sewage carries a variety of bacteria that has a negative impact on human health, fish and wildlife.

In addition to the health impacts, it has massive financial consequences. The blockages and backups can destroy the pipes in your home as well as the infrastructure of the District water system.  This destruction can cost homeowners in home pipe repair, but also affect taxpayers by costing a district thousands of dollars in infrastructure repair expenses. The expense of continually repairing clogged pipes may ultimately impact customers’ monthly rates or property taxes.

Let F.O.G .cool and DO NOT pour down sinks or drains!

Proper Disposal of F.O.G.:

  • Pour into a sealable can or bottle then dispose at a local recycle center or household trash receptacle
  • Scrape food particles and absorb excess oils with a paper towel from pots and pans prior to placing them into the sink for washing.
  • Use strainers in the sink to catch scraps and other solids.
  • Solutions like Oil-Dri Absorbent Clay® or cat litter can assist in capturing and drying out oil, fat and grease, thus making it safe to throw in the trash.

Please remember hot water and soap DO NOT eliminate FOG because it will eventually reform in pipes.

Sources:  https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assistance/water/wastewater/fog/home_fog.html

 

Fort Bend MUD 128: Burn Ban in Effect

As of August 8th, Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court unanimously approved a 90-day outdoor burn ban for all areas of Fort Bend County. This includes residents of Fort Bend MUD 128. This ban means that no residents can burn or order another to burn any material outside of an enclosure designed to contain and capable of containing all flames, sparks, embers, cinders and ash produced by burning.

During drought conditions, the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal can recommend adopting a burn ban order in all areas within Fort Bend County. With Commissioner’s Court approval, officers of the Fire Marshal’s Office can issue citations for any outdoor burning in the county found to be in violation of a burn ban.

The Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s Office works in coordination with the 21 Fire Departments, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Bend County Constable’s Offices, Fort Bend County Environmental Health Enforcement Unit, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to educate county citizens about the outdoor burning regulations and to enforce the state laws governing outdoor burning.

If you have any questions regarding outdoor burning, please contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and/or Fort Bend County Environmental Health Enforcement.

Find more resources here:
https://www.fortbendcountytx.gov/government/departments/public-safety/fire-marshal/outdoor-burning

Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate

The Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District No. 128 will hold a public hearing on a proposed tax rate for the tax year 2023 on Monday, September 25, 2023 at 8:15 a.m., at 202 Century Square Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas 77478, by videoconference at Microsoft Teams: https://districtmtg.com/esh. Your individual taxes may increase at a greater or lesser rate, or even decrease, depending on the tax rate that is adopted and on the change in the taxable value of your property in relation to the change in taxable value of all other property. The change in the taxable value of your property in relation to the change in the taxable value of all other property determines the distribution of the tax burden among all property owners.

Visit Texas.gov/PropertyTaxes to find a link to your local property tax database on which you can easily access information regarding your property taxes, including information about proposed tax rates and scheduled public hearings of each entity that taxes your property.

Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate (PDF)

Beware of Alligator

The ferocious gator enjoying dinner.

 

The District wants to inform residents of the presence of an alligator in the ponds. As the temperature rises, we want to warn against swimming and fishing in the ponds.

There has been a recent confirmed alligator sightings in the ponds. The Board is not taking any action to remove the alligator but wants residents to be aware of the sightings. The district wants to remind residents to treat all wildlife with respect. Feeding, harassing, injuring, or removing wildlife, including alligators, is against the law. Remember that they’re an important part of Texas’s natural history, as well as an integral part of many wetland ecosystems.

Stay safe around alligators by following these rules:

  • Do not feed or harass alligators. The District advises against feeding or offering food, including fish or bait, to alligators.

Other tips:

  • Retreat: always keep at least 30 feet away from alligators. If you get too close, back away slowly. Do not assume that alligators are slow and sluggish. They are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. They rarely chase people, but they can outrun or outswim the fastest person for the first 30 feet.
  • Hiss: If an alligator hisses, it’s warning you that you are too close. Back away slowly.
  • Protect: A female protecting her nest or young may charge if you get too close but will quickly return to the nest after you leave. Avoid piles of twigs, grasses and/or soil near the side of the lake. Also avoid any group of small alligators under a foot long.
  • Bask: Alligators often bask along the banks of ponds or streams. They are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often a basking alligator will have its mouth open. It is cooling itself, as alligators do not pant or sweat.
  • Pets: Pets are the size and shape of common alligator prey. Keep them away from the water’s edge and on leashes that are no longer than 6 feet. Do not leave your pet unsupervised. Alligators have a keen sense of smell. Your pet will be curious, and the alligator may see it as an easy food source.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t kill, harass, bother, or try to move alligators. A provoked alligator is likely to bite.
  • Don’t feed or entice alligators. When fed, alligators overcome their natural shyness and become accustomed to or attracted to humans.
  • Do tell others that feeding alligators creates problems for those who want to use the water for recreation.
  • Don’t remove an alligator from its natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is a violation of state law to do so. You cannot tame an alligator, and even small ones may bite. Never go near baby alligators or pick them up. They may seem cute and harmless, but mama alligator is nearby, and will protect her clutch.
  • Keep alligators a safe distance (at least 30 feet) from you.

Be Aware: Jugging

Jugging is a term used to describe a form of scam or fraud in which individuals are targeted and robbed after leaving a bank or ATM. This criminal activity involves a group of people working together to steal cash or other valuable items from unsuspecting victims. Criminals who engage in jugging often observe their targets as they enter and exit banks or ATMs, looking for people who withdraw large amounts of cash or items from safe deposit boxes. They then follow the victim to their next destination, usually a retail store or other business, and wait for an opportunity to break into their car and steal their valuables.

One of the best ways to prevent jugging is to be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting a bank or ATM. Take note of any suspicious individuals or vehicles in the area and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables, such as jewelry. If possible, use electronic banking services or credit cards to make transactions.

When leaving a bank or ATM, be sure to check your surroundings and make sure you are not being followed. If you suspect that someone is following you, call the police or go to a safe location, such as a police station or crowded area.

Avoid leaving valuables in plain sight and make sure your car is locked and windows are rolled up. If possible, park in a well-lit area with security cameras. To avoid becoming a victim of jugging, individuals should be aware of their surroundings, avoid leaving large amounts of cash or valuables in their vehicles, and take steps to protect themselves and their valuables.

If you believe you are being followed, or if you are victim of jugging, contact the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office.

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Coyote Sighting

Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District 128 (the “District”) received a report from a resident of a coyote sighting. The District has confirmed additional coyote sightings. The District is not taking any action to remove the coyote(s) at this time, but has tips on how to keep you and your family safe.

Coyotes may mistake small, unattended pets as prey or attack large dogs they view as threats to territory or dens. To keep your animals safe, take two simple steps:

  1. Watch your pets. Keep cats indoors, and never leave small dogs outside unsupervised or let any dog out of your yard off leash.
  2. Secure food sources. Store garbage in wildlife-proof containers and feed pets indoors.

Do not deliberately feed coyotes. You may enjoy hand-feeding animals, but this is a surefire way to get them accustomed to people and will ultimately lead to their demise. Here are some other general rules about feeding:

Avoid feeding pets outside. If you must, feed them only for a set time during the day (for no more than one hour) and remove the food bowl as soon as your pet has finished his or her meal.

Free-roaming pets, especially cats and sometimes small dogs, may attract coyotes into certain neighborhoods. The best way to minimize risk to your pets is to not leave them outside unattended.

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