5 Ways to Keep Warm During a Winter Power Outage
Winter power outages can turn your cozy home into an icebox in a matter of hours, yet staying in a motel or going to a community warming center may not be an option. If you live in an area that experiences frigid winters, knowing how to keep yourself and your family warm during a power outage is crucial to your health and safety. Here are some safe, effective methods for retaining and generating heat while you wait for electricity service to be restored.
Dress in Layers
As soon as you discover the outage, dress the entire family in layers. Thin layers should be closest to the skin, with bulkier items over them. Avoid cotton, as it breathes so well it allows heat to escape. Fleece fabric, wool and nylon blends are excellent choices. Dress warmly, but be aware that sweating will saturate your clothing and make you dangerously cold. Remove layers if you start to overheat and monitor small children for signs of overheating such as a red face, sweating or pulling at their clothes. If you or family members want to sleep, someone staying awake to monitor those sleeping is a good idea. Should anyone become overheated and sweat, have them strip off the damp clothing, towel dry and dress in dry clothes.
Use Sunlight to Your Advantage
If there is sunlight hitting the house, open the draperies and blinds to allow it to pour in. This will help bring some warmth into the house and will provide a comfortable place for you and your family to enjoy the heat. As soon as the sun moves out of range, close the curtains to seal in warmth. If you have a porch or patio and the air is calm, consider bundling up the family and sitting out in the sun. If bundled properly, this can be a wonderfully warming experience. Don’t attempt this if there is wind, however, as the wind chill will negate the warming effect.
Prepare Hot Beverages and Foods
If you have a gas stove and can ignite it safely with a match or lighter, prepare warm food and beverages. You can also use a camp stove or barbecue outside and bring the warm food and drink back in once it’s ready. Check your store of emergency food for items that will be comforting and provide energy, such as oatmeal, pasta sides, cans of stew or soups. Make coffee, tea or cocoa to warm your hands and bellies. If you have hot water bottles, fill them and tuck them into your blankets or between layers of clothing.
Use Alternative Heating Sources
If you have a kerosene space heater or camp lanterns, use them safely by venting the room properly and keeping the flame away from small kids and pets. Never use them when everyone is sleeping. If you have a fireplace, build a fire and huddle nearby for warmth. If you have a generator, consider using it to run a space heater or an electric blanket at regular intervals.
Share Body Heat
Once it’s time to sleep, everyone going to their individual beds is an inefficient use of body heat. Make a communal bed on the floor with mattresses, blankets and pillows. Strip down to only a thin layer and share body heat by cuddling and laying against one another. If you have a dog or cat, now is not the time to stand on house rules of no animals in bed. Allow your pet to join you for your comfort and theirs.
Winter power outages can present a unique challenge to you and your family. The importance of staying dry, warm, fed and hydrated cannot be overstated. By keeping these tips in mind, you will be prepared and know what to do should your electricity service be interrupted in cold weather.
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