Howling winds, falling tree limbs, and piles of snow can wreak havoc on power lines. Winter is a common time for power outages. Freezing temperatures can make them downright dangerous. Without electricity, many American homes don’t have a good source of heating. This can open the door for hypothermia, frostbite, or worse. Never fear though, we’ve assembled a list of proven strategies for surviving the cold, even without power!
Pick one room in your home to keep warm. It’s much easier to keep just one small room heated than your entire house. You want to select the smallest room possible, that will comfortably fit your entire family. You should also look for a room that is naturally insulated, or that has few windows, doorways, or other openings to the outside.
You can use thick blankets or even plastic sheeting to make the warm room even smaller. You should also cover any windows or other openings, so that you have a sealed space to keep warm. You should dress for the weather inside the warm room. Wear coats and scarves and gloves and hats as much as possible. Try to keep exposed skin to a minimum. You can use sleeping bags, or even set up a tent inside your warm room to trap the heat!
There are some options for heating your home without electricity, but the most important thing is to stay safe. Never use propane or charcoal grills indoors, or try any strategy that will provide warmth at the expense of safety. Fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are real threats, and should not be taken lightly. A properly ventilated woodburning stove may be the best way to keep warm. There are also a few models of portable heaters that are designed to be used indoors. Just be sure to keep a battery-powered carbon monoxide monitor handy when burning anything inside. It will alert you if levels become too high. You may also want to use a small backpacking stove to warm water, for making food and drinks, or for transferring to a hot water bottle.
Stay inside as much as possible. Minimizing exposure to the elements is the best way to keep yourself, and your home, hot and toasty. Also be sure to eat and stay hydrated. Hot foods can go a long way to keep your body temperature up! You should also do your best to stay dry, and change clothes if they become wet from melting snow or sweat. You can even do jumping jacks or other types of exercise inside your warm room to get your muscles moving!
Keep your vehicle fueled up. You can use it to charge cell phones, or to get to a community center or other emergency shelter in an emergency. Before you start the engine, double check that your muffler is free from snow so exhaust can escape!
Remember: The best way to handle an emergency situation is to be prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have enough supplies on hand BEFORE the weather gets bad!