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How to Stay Warm and Safe When the Power Goes Out

candle lit during power outage

As you and many other families across the country are bracing for winter storms, you may be considering some preparation to help keep warm. Power outages and freezing temperatures means getting creative with heat. Additionally, fires due to the misuse of different heating sources are a major concern when storms hit. So how can you keep your family warm and safe if you experience a power outage? Here are some ways you can prepare for power outages.

Alternative Heat Sources

When your regular heat is out due to the power outage, you’ll want to have some alternative options. Keep in mind these sources are where the fire risk is the highest. Make sure to follow all recommended safety protocols when using these.

  • Candles – A group of candles can provide some warmth, as long as they are not in a place where they can be knocked over.
  • Solar Heaters – While these are pretty expensive, they be used effectively to heat one room or a small section of a house.
  • Wood Stove or Fireplace – A stack of firewood can make for easy eating with a wood stove or fireplace, which is a great way to heat the whole house and prepare food.
  • Portable Generator – A portable generator can help run a space heater or two, while a large one is good for running a furnace. Both need to be kept outside away from the house and will require some extra fuel on hand.
  • Your level of risk of power outage will determine what options are best for you. You don’t need to splurge for a large generator or panel of solar heaters if you generally have mild winters with minimal risk of power outage.

    Keep the Warmth In

    Just like you want your kids to keep the door to the freezer closed to keep the cold air in, when the power goes out, you’ll want to keep the warm air in for as long as possible.

  • Cover the Windows – Putting duct tape along the window seals, plastic or garbage bags over the glass, or even using bubble wrap (yes, a use for that from your last move!) will help provide a layer of insulation on the windows.
  • Close the Blinds and Curtains – After you’ve added the insulation to the windows, make sure you keep the blinds and curtains closed, this will help block drafts. When the sun shines again, open them up and let the warmth back in — even if only temporarily.
  • Block Drafts – Rolled up towels are a great option for blocking drafts from windows sils or doors. You can use blankets, shirts, etc., anywhere there may be a draft.
  • Stay In One Small Room – Gather in one small room, preferably a small one with few windows that is big enough for your family. Close the door and cover vents to keep as much warm air in it as possible.
  • Close other Doors – After you’ve chosen a room to gather in, close the doors to the other rooms, again to keep the heat where you are located.
  • When trying to keep the warmth in, you can get very creative with keeping the cold out. Huddle up together in a small place and focus all of your resources on heating that one area.

    Use What You Have

    As with using curtains and towels to keep the warmth in, you may need to break out extra layers and blankets to keep yourself warm.

  • Layer Your Clothing – Multiple pairs of socks, thermal underwear, sweatshirts and even hat and gloves will all come in handy when the power goes out and your house is cold.
  • Hand Warmers – If you experience power outages frequently, or you live in a cold area, a pair of handwarmers is a great investment. You can put them in your socks and gloves to help keep warm.
  • Lots of Blankets – Break out the blankets and pile them up to help keep warm. Wool blankets are the best for staying warm, and keeping your head covered with a hat will help as well.
  • Sleeping Bags – Blankets are good for on the couch, but at night, you’ll want to sleep in a good-quality sleeping bag to trap all that body heat right where it belongs.
  • If you have a love for blankets and sweatshirts, you’re halfway there as far as preparing for a power outage in the cold weather.

    Get Creative

    You may have heard old wives’ tales about how you can keep your house warm without power and rolled your eyes. But some of those things may be true, with a little creativity.

  • Drink Warm Liquids - Drinking hot liquids will help keep your body temperature up but getting liquids hot could be a challenge. You could use a camp stove! If you can’t make things hot, at least don’t drink them cold.
  • Exercise – Just a few minutes of moving around with purpose will help you warm up quickly. Jumping jacks, burpees, or even a simple game of Simon Says with the kids will help warm everyone up and boost morale.
  • Indoor Camping – Just like huddling in a small room will help conserve the heat you do have a tent will trap in body heat. You can even throw a blanket over the top to help trap even more heat inside.
  • Hot Water Bottles – Just like years ago, hot water bottles can help keep you warm. Bags of rice and beans can do the same. Put it near your space heater or fire (not too close!) and then snuggle up with it.
  • Creativity is key here, coupled with safety. Whatever you can think of that will keep you and your family warm is worth trying out.

    Is your area at risk for a power outage this winter? Review these tips and be ready to implement them if the time comes. Stay warm!