Keeping Warm During a Power Outage
If you live in an area that is prone to severe winter weather, such as blizzards, ice storms and subzero temperatures, then devising ways to keep warm during extended power outages should be part of your emergency preparedness, along with stocking water, survival food, and other gear to be self sufficient. Before winter arrives, be sure your house is well insulated, and that all cracks around doors and windows have been sealed. Stock up on wood if you have a fireplace or wood stove, or pellets if you have a pellet stove. Consider purchasing space heaters and a good gas powered generator that can run some appliances. Be sure to store gasoline, but do not store it inside your living space. Place the generator outside in a sheltered area and run power cords into your home.Another option for alternative power is a power inverter. When attached to a 12 volt battery, like an extra car battery, it can power small space heaters and heating pads. They can also be powered by rechargeable batteries for endless supply. Power inverters are good options because they don’t use combustible fuel to run.Because you cannot be certain how long your power will be out, start the warming process in ways that do not consume fuel, such as layering your clothing, while your home still has some warmth. Wearing a wool hat and wool socks will help retain body heat, as heat loss occurs rapidly through the head and feet. As the house cools down, add gloves and thermal underwear.Confine yourself to one area of the house and use towels or other items to seal cracks at doors. If possible, choose interior rooms, as opposed to rooms with exterior walls, because these will lose heat at a slower rate. Stock these rooms with blankets, sleeping bags, food and water to minimize opening the doors and letting heat escape. Close curtains and blinds over windows to help further insulate the rooms.Options abound for space heaters. Electric heaters can be used with a generator or power inverter, and heaters fueled by propane work well if ventilated to outside the home. Kerosene heaters provide a lot of heat, and may even be too hot for some rooms. Your space heater should put out around 10,000 BTUs for a comfortable room temperature. Remember to stock extra fuel for heaters as part of your emergency preparedness supplies, but remember that any heat source that uses combustible fuel must be properly ventilated. Carbon monoxide, an invisible, odorless gas is a byproduct of combustion and is deadly within minutes. It is important to recognize the signs of poisoning, and a list of symptoms can be obtained from your local fire department. Other ways to keep warm include burning candles or oil lamps, using chemical hand warmers that produce heat for 8 to 12 hours, using mylar space blankets, and heating large rocks or bricks on an outdoor grill to bring inside. If you have to cook food, do so outdoors on a grill or on a camp stove. Don’t forget to add hot chocolate packets to your survival food storage. It is a high calorie food and a great morale booster.If you do lose power for an extended period of time, it is important to stay hydrated and to eat high calorie energy food. Your body will burn more calories and lose more water trying to stay warm. Winter emergency preparedness should include reviewing your plan with family members so that everyone is ready in the event of a power outage. You may be a little uncomfortable, but your goal is to survive until the power returns.-Gary Jenkins-Gary Jenkins is a father and husband living in Oregon who is a wildlife rehabilitation and outdoor adventure enthusiast.