When the power goes out for those living in urban or suburban cities this may mean the heat goes out too. While they say you can go 3-days without water, you can only last 3-hours without shelter in extreme conditions. Your home can offer protection from the wind and will hold some residual heat for a few hours after lights out. This means you will have longer than 3 hours but heating can still be a serious issue in cold weather. Here I share some tips for keeping warm without power.
This article is number 4 in our power outage series, if you want to read the others:
- 5 Steps to Evaluating Water Security during a Power Outage
- 8 Steps to Evaluating Food Preparedness for Power Outages
- 7 Steps for Maintaining Proper Sanitation during Power Outage
For this article I will focus on folks living without a wood stove in their home, as those who do already have electric-free heat.
Heating without Power
- Insulate your home. Even before the power goes out, you can take steps today to make your home more resilient to power outages. Insulating your home will prevent heat loss as well as keep it cooler in summer time. Placing plastic over the windows can reduce drafts and create an air barrier between the outside world and your home. I understand this plastic method is more of a northern US thing, and often harder to find further south so here is a link to the type of plastic I am talking about, however any large sheets of plastic will do.
- Prevent further heat loss. The power just went out in the middle of winter, and you have no idea when it will come back on. First step is to reduce further heat loss. Cover windows with blankets, and plug the heat vents of forced hot air systems. Close curtains and shut internal doors between rooms. It may be necessary for all family members to join in one room and focus only on keeping that one room warm. If you haven't added plastic over the windows, now may be a time to consider it.
- Determine additional heat source. Do you have another means for adding heat? Do you have a wood fireplace that is mostly decorative but could be used for extra heat if needed? Consider investing in a propane space heater like this one, you would also need to stock on propane tanks if you decided to use this heating method. With a space heater, focus on heating the smallest room only and keeping it well insulated.
- Add layers. Just as you insulated your windows, insulate your body. It should be obvious to most, but wear hats and scarves to capture the heat you are creating. Watch for extremities, as they can get cold fast. Another option is to use the emergency Mylar blankets designed to reflect heat back toward your body. They are pretty cheap and can also be used to line tents or sleeping bags.
- Stock up on warm things. Nothing warms the soul and the body quite like a hot cup of chicken noodle soup. While a propane cook stove won't heat the room it can heat up water for tea, hot chocolate or soup. See my article on cooking during power outages: 8 Steps to Evaluating Food Preparedness for Power Outages. I recommend this butane stove for indoor use, and don't forget to stock up on butane canisters as well. In addition, consider adding chemical hand warmers to your supplies to slip into cold pockets or inside socks.
- Cuddle with your family. Sleeping together can help share body heat and protect smaller humans and the elderly who may not create enough heat themselves.
- Avoid drinking cold water. Avoid drinking cold water as this will require your body to heat it back up to your normal temperature, making your body work harder than it needs to.
Steps To Take Today
- Evaluate your home for proper insulation and heating options.
- Invest in a cook stove and propane space heater.
- Stock up on warm supplies like hand warmers, Mylar blankets, hat and scarves.
Keeping warm during a power outage can seem like a daunting and perpetual task. However understanding your heating options will put you way ahead of your neighbors. Investing in supplies today can give you peace of mind to weather out the next major snowstorm. We hope you enjoyed this article as part of our power outage series.
Are you ready to keep warm during a power outage? What is your plan? Thanks for reading!
Other Articles in our Power Outage Series: