How to keep warm if the power goes out

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By Arthur Murray February 11th, 2019

As another winter storm threatens large parts of the nation, thoughts turn to losing power – it happens in the best of circumstances. How can you keep your family warm if the power goes out because of snow, sleet, wrecks, falling trees, or even squirrels?

Outages typically vary in duration but can stretch for hours or even days. And when it’s really cold outside, any time without electricity – heat – can seem interminable. Remember, however, that your retail electricity supplier isn’t responsible for fixing the situation – that’s up to the utility, which delivers the power to your home, regardless of its source.

That said, here are some of the best ways to stay warm when the power’s not working.

  • My generation. Hands down, the best solution for outages is having a generator. And people who have them likely have fuel on hand, making it simple to switch back on to full power while neighbors without generators shiver.
  • What would Hank Hill do? The animated star of King of the Hill would use an indoor propane heater to warm the house. Propane doesn’t have the stigma of kerosene, which many consider too dangerous. Safety alert – never leave any indoor heater unattended.
  • Put some (more) clothes on. It’s called layering. A T-shirt, covered by long-sleeved shirts, covered by sweaters, covered by a thermal jacket can hold the warmth in. Don’t forget insulated socks, gloves, and a hat, so you’re not losing heat at the extremities.
  • Go undercover. Extra blankets and comforters can keep you cozy.
  • Go camping. Stay in one room of the house. Put up a tent. Use your sleeping bags and lanterns. All this can keep heat concentrated.
  • Sun, sun, sun. Sunlight packs heat. Use it to your advantage by opening blinds and curtains when the sun is shining from that direction. But remember to …
  • Play air defense. Keep the cold air at bay by closing blinds and curtains. Don’t open exterior doors. Heck, keep the interior doors closed, too. Roll up towels and put them at the base of exterior doors and windows – anything you can do to prevent drafts will help.
  • Start jumping, Jack. Or Ed or Bob or Bill. Jumping jacks – or any kind of exercise – can warm you in a hurry. And you know you ought to be doing this anyway, right?
  • Food for thought: It can help you feel warmer, plus you have to do it. But don’t open the fridge or the freezer unless you have to, and then for as short a period as possible. Food will stay good in an unopened refrigerator for about four hours; a freezer, if full, will stay cold for 48 hours.
  • When all else fails. Pack the family in the car, crank the engine, and run the heater to get warmed up. Safety alert: Don’t do this in a closed garage – carbon monoxide is not your friend.

If the outage is extended, consider going to a shelter. There’s no shame in seeking help, and you can only stretch your stored nonperishable food for so long.

The important thing is to keep yourself and your family safe while waiting for the electricity to come back on.

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