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How to keep your house warm during a power outage.

Wind storms, especially in combination with ice or snowstorms, can cause power outages that depending on where you live can last from a few hours to days or even weeks.

Fierce windstorm slams western, central U.S., sparking blizzard conditions for some

Several locations saw gusts greater than 100 mph, with damaging winds lasting for hours

This headline from just last week, and many like it are not uncommon in the PNW or in the Rocky Mountain states. Anyone that lives in those areas knows that at least one power outage every winter is likely. Those that can, have a woodstove just for such occasions as it will do double duty of keeping you warm and cooking your food. But what if you don’t have a woodstove or only have a fireplace? How can you keep your home warm?

Tips for keeping warm when the power is out

1) Layer Your Clothing

When there is no power to heat your home, your body can quickly feel the outdoor temperatures and struggle to stay warm. Layering clothing is one of the easiest ways to ensure your body maintains its temperature when you do not have power. From your head to your toes, layer your clothing to give your body the extra heat it needs. Don’t forget about your feet, hands or head when layering your clothing, as those areas are where your body can lose the most heat. You may feel silly doing so, but wearing hats and gloves, even when you’re indoors, can really help your body remain warm as you wait out the power outage.

2) Close off one room

Choose a room that is big enough for the whole family to hang out in, that doesn’t have high ceilings since heat rises. If you have a fireplace, but tall ceilings that may be ok for hanging out during the day when someone is there to tend the fire and you are using it for cooking. But at night you may need to move to another room or take turns watching the fire as fireplaces are not very efficient at heating spaces. Make sure drapes are drawn and if you still feel a draft, or cold air seeping in, then use blankets to further cover the windows.

3) Set up camp

If you have a room with a fireplace and a high ceiling, then consider dragging out your camping gear and setting up your tent. If you don’t have a fireplace, then choose a room that you can close off and set up the tent in it for sleeping. If you don’t have a tent it is time to revert to your childhood and build a fort. Especially at night, it is important to share body heat, and the tent adds an extra layer of keeping the heat close to you instead of rising to the ceiling.

4) Eat & drink warm items

Even if the power is out you can still cook on an out door grill or over a few tea candles. Hot drinks, and warm food help to keep your core body temperature up and provide some level of comfort. Make sure you are well stocked on food that is easily prepared with just a bit of heating up.

5) Propane Heaters

Mr. Heater Propane Heaters come in a variety of sizes and if you are unable to add a wood stove to your home then they are your best bet for staying warm. They are not cheap, but definitely an investment worth making. Make sure you read the warnings – and keep anything flammable a long way away from them! I once witnessed a tent go up in flames and several young girls get burned when one of these heaters was used in their tent. Treat them like an open flame and exercise a great deal of caution especially if you have young children or pets in your home.

6) Candles for light and heat

Open flames are to be treated with absolute caution. Despite the inherent danger, they will provide light and a small amount of heat. You are not going to be able to heat up an enclosed room, but they can help.

  • 100 hour candle – having a few of these in your supplies makes sense as they are easy to store and as their name suggests they last a long time.
  • Terracotta Pot heater – you have probably seen videos that show how to make these or heard them described. Unfortunately, they do not work as well as advertised. The candles burn faster, and they do not put out as much heat as just candles alone.

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