Photo of blankets and a fireplace

Harsh winters have their negatives, but one of the worst things that could happen is a power outage. Aside from being cold and uncomfortable, it can also impact your home. Dealing with this is never fun, but if it’s happening to you here are some ways to get through it.

1. Layer up

Getting warm is only half of the equation when you need to warm up during a power outage. The other half is that you need to stay warm and to do that you need to layer up which is a bit obvious but there are some specific ways to do it that are the most effective.

Have you ever noticed that when you wear socks sometimes your feet are colder than you would like, so you take off your socks and your feet get warm naturally in 10 minutes? Well, this is because you are isolating your body from getting heat from the environment. In this example, it might be better to have no socks but layer with blankets until your feet can stay warm on their own.

If you’re with your family then you can wear fewer layers on your body but layer up with blankets, and your shared body heat will warm you up faster. So try to layer up on clothes, but if that isn’t cutting it then layer up in blankets and huddle together without too many clothing layers.

A great layer to add is a mylar emergency blanket. These blankets are really thin but they’re amazing at reflecting your heat back to you. They’re not great for insulation though. So you should put that blanket directly around you and then layer normal blankets around or over it.

2. Prep the Room

If your house no longer has electricity, preparing your home to trap heat is crucial.

First, pick a room in your home that can fit your family in, has access to a bathroom, and is able to get sunlight during the day. This will be the room you all huddle into and with you all being in a smaller space, you’ll create and trap more heat.

During the day open all of the blinds if there is sunlight, and close them at night to trap more heat. Heat can also escape through the floor, especially with hard floors. So try putting down a rug or a blanket on the floors. If you feel cold coming in from the walls, you can try to put up blankets against the walls or windows to insulate, keeping more heat in the room. You can also drape a mylar emergency blanket over the tent to trap in more heat.

You can even use a tent in the room to trap your heat in that smaller space, which is also a great trick to make it fun for your kids if they’re losing patience being in one room. And anything fun for them will help preserve your sanity too, right?

3. Stay Together

Now you are already in the same room, but maybe that’s not enough to stay warm. Depending on the situation, you might need to share blankets and snuggle close together. For this, you may not want to be in all of your coats and other layers, you could instead be in regular clothing and layer all the blankets on top and underneath you all so that you can share body heat.

Simply being in the same room allows for each of your individual body heat to help warm up the room. After some time, you won’t even need a ton of layers and you will want to take off a coat or a blanket just to sit in the room.

4. Be Prepared with the Right Supplies and Equipment

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it’s too late for this. But if you’re able to prep for next time when this is all over you’ll be so glad you did. It takes some effort but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

So invest in some power banks that can charge your devices, and that can help power things like heated blankets or space heaters. Space heaters and electric blankets use a LOT of energy so a generator is the best bet to get more time out of it and help you out with powering things and keeping warm for emergencies.

I also like my Mr. Heater portable Buddy Heater. It’s designed to shut off if Oxygen levels get too low or if it gets tipped over so it’s considered indoor safe. I’ve used mine in the tent and indoors and it puts out a nice amount of heat. I recommend reading this article I wrote about how to use one of these propane heaters safely indoors. It could be a great way to stay warm during a power outage.

For a clean and quiet alternative to a generator, you can use a solar generator. I picked up this Jackery (link to Amazon) a while back and it stores a lot of power, so powering a couple of heated blankets would be no problem. Couple that with the other ideas on this list and you can stay comfortable and warm for some time.

You can also buy disposable or reusable hand warmers. They’re perfect to keep on hand with emergency gear and camping gear. I’ve used both kinds quite a bit. I really like the Hot Hands body warmers. I put it on my inner-most layer, like a t-shirt, right over my chest slightly on the left side, basically over my heart. This keeps my whole body pretty warm since it seems to warm the blood that flows throughout my body.

Photo of HotHands Body Warmer and a Zippo Reusable Hand Warmer
HotHands Body Warmer and a Zippo Reusable Hand Warmer

And if you’re doing this prep anyway, don’t forget to prepare by having food storage with emergency water bottles, canned goods, and any food that is non-perishable.

It’s also nice to have a safe way to heat up food. There are a lot of options with camping gear. You likely need propane ready and available for them but it is worth having. Canned heat cooking fuel is also a nice alternative to propane since it’s safer to use indoors.

One year in Texas we had a huge ice storm and it shut off the power and basically froze all the roads so the city of Dallas basically shut down for a few days. We had a generator so we could power our furnace, which generated its heat from natural gas. We also had a fireplace. I did my cooking outside in the cold on my propane grill and in my Dutch ovens using charcoal.

For us, it turned into a fun experience while a lot of other people really struggled and had to go to nearby hotels that had backup generators.

5. Use Your Fireplace

If you have a fireplace try to set up and retain heat in that room as much as possible. And you can use the fireplace for a lot of other things you’re used to including heating up food and water for meals.

You can also get bricks or stones from outside and heat them up on the fire. By doing that, you can then put them around you in the room which will let off the heat for a long time. Just don’t set hot bricks right onto the carpet or other surfaces that can melt. It’s best to set them on a hot pad, towel, or some other surface that’s resistant to heat.

There are so many ways to be creative and heat up your home, but remember to just focus on one room. Trying to heat your whole home might not be feasible.

If your fireplace is in your living room then grab a bunch of blankets and have a slumber party with your family. Plus, how fun would it be to use all the pillows, couch cushions, and even the mattresses in the house to make a fun, comfortable, and warm environment for everyone to sleep in?

6. Eat Hot Food

You will need to eat, and opening your fridge and freezer is a no-go because you don’t want to let out the cold in it while it isn’t running. So what do you do? I like to start by using up anything in my pantry.

Again, you can use a grill or camp stove to heat up your food. Warm food can do a lot to warm you up.

If you need a hot meal then you could try going into town as a lot of fast food places have their own generators so they can stay open even when the power is out. It can be hard to tell what is open but I like to drive around and look for which places have cars in the parking lot or drive-thru.

7. Do Active Things Together

When you are cold it is easy to want to huddle up and not move, but you can all make yourselves warmer and make the room warmer by doing something active. Try running in place, jumping jacks, or even playing active games.

You can also go out into the car and go on a drive with the heater on to stay warm. Whether you want to drive around aimlessly, or if you want to visit somewhere you haven’t been before it is up to you. It can be a great opportunity to do something in nature or to simply spend quality time together. And, if you have a family member or a friend nearby whose power has not gone out then you can ask to come over while your home is cold.

8. Find a Nearby Warming Shelter

In some areas, winter can be really bad, and it can even cause a power outage. And it can take the city a while to get power back on while a big storm is passing by. Depending on the situation, you may need extra help to stay warm during times like these. If the situation is dire, there may be a warming center available to the public.

Hospitals have backup generators to allow them to operate during emergencies, so if you have elderly family members or young babies, then come to the hospital if the city’s help is not enough. Remember that the hospital will be busy and possibly not capable to give everyone a room or a bed, so try to exhaust your other options.

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