As many Texans experienced firsthand in 2021, the loss of power during extreme weather can lead to some dire circumstances. More than 4.5 million people lost power for several days, leading to hundreds of deaths and $195 billion in property damage.
Staying warm without power in extreme conditions can be the difference between life and death, so being ready for the worst can be a lifesaver. Some simple preparedness can help a family survive the elements when the heater doesn’t turn on.
A Fireplace Can Make a Huge Difference
As many Texans found out in 2021, simply having a fireplace in a home can make a huge difference during a power outage. This author experienced firsthand during the Texas emergency that getting the wife and kids huddled around the fire can make a huge difference.
A key is having logs ready to go when the temperature drops and the lights go out. Keeping a reserve of wood in a dry place is critical, and having some matches or a lighter readily available also helps.
Beyond providing a heat source, reverting to some caveman cooking is also possible. Grab some pots and pans and keep the family fed like on a camping trip in Yellowstone. Some coffee or hot chocolate can add some nice warmth to the body as well. Frankenstein may have been afraid of fire, but those flames can be man’s best friend during a massive winter storm.
Generate Your Own Power
Generators run the gamut, but some form of electrical backup may mean staying warm and connecting to the outside world. Electrical backups can range from whole-house gasoline-powered generators costing thousands of dollars to charging stations meant to run smaller appliances – like a heater in this case.
However, a critical part of this survival necessity during a power outage is to be prepared. Plan ahead and keep some gasoline cans on hand in a safe place to power the generator. Keep those charging stations powered up and ready for action, especially in the winter when the temperatures start falling.
It’s important to note that a few electrical or battery-powered space heaters are also essential to have on hand during a power outage. Plug some in your backup generators or charging stations and gather the family around. This may not be ideal, but it can keep frostbite away.
One added note; it’s important to avoid using camp stoves or gas stoves and ovens indoors. These can produce carbon monoxide or create a fire hazard.
This probably goes without saying, but bundle up when the electricity goes out and it’s cold outside. Some extra blankets in an easily-accessible spot in the house, possibly near your flashlight cache, is always an excellent idea.
In Texas, when the temperature reached the big ZERO at one point (unheard of for north Texas), a pile of blankets certainly helped when bundling up indoors.
Create Less Space for Your Heat Source
When using the fireplace or other source of heat in a power outage, it’s important to limit the space you’re heating. Close off other rooms that aren’t directly near where you’re trying to heat.
For example, if you and the family are snuggled around the fireplace in the living room, close doors to all other external rooms to keep the heat confined to that one room. Covering windows also helps keep cool air out and a room a few degrees warmer.
If using a backup battery and heater, locate the family in a smaller room so that the heat more easily stays within that room. A nice heater in a smaller space can mean a higher level of comfort and add some much-needed warmth to those cold bones.
Quick Trip to the Car
A nice heater usually awaits survivors right in the garage, but it’s important to remember to open that garage door or back out into the driveway so that toxic fumes don’t pose a risk.
But a quick charge of the phone inside that car and a few minutes of running the heater can help you stay warm during a power outage. it also can offer some connection to the outside world, toasty toes, and warm relief.
If someone becomes trapped in a car during these power outages, having some blankets and a survival bag in the trunk can pay off. Some bottles of fresh water, snacks to eat, and extra blankets or clothes can make a huge difference while waiting out the weather in the car.
Emergency thermal blankets are also relatively inexpensive and help retain body heat when as much heat is needed as possible. When faced with an emergency power outage, the old Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” can pay huge dividends – and make someone glad they did.
This content was originally posted by Skillset Mag in November 2022.