Staying Warm and Surviving Winter Power Outages

December 10, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

Winter Storm Cleon – do I really need to say more? Four inches of ice is enough to bring down just about any power line out there and that’s exactly what happened. 

Before the Storm 

Before the cold weather ever moves in, there are some things you should be doing to protect yourself and your family in the case that you lose power. Even if you don’t plan on traveling, make sure you have plenty of gas in the car. Even trips to the store or local shelters could leave you on empty since many gas stations today rely on electricity to power the pumps. 

Crank up your fridge and the freezer to as cold as they’ll go. This will help preserve food longer in case your power outage lasts for days or heaven forbid – weeks. 

Now’s the time to make sure you don’t have tree branches hovering over the house, your car or power lines. Whether you hire someone to clear ’em out or you pull the old chainsaw out yourself, get those limbs free and clear of anything they could hit if brought down by a heavy layer of ice.

Now’s also the time to research help in the case that something drastically goes wrong. Frozen, busted water lines? Roof damaged? Now what? You don’t want to be scrambling while the disaster gets worse. You want to know which company or service is going to be there fast and get the job done right the first time.

Get some heavy, clear plastic if you can. This will come in handy to cover windows on the inside and seal in what heat you have should you lose power and keep out the cold. 

If the Power Goes Out 

If you do lose power, pick a small room that everyone will stay in. With everyone in a single, small room you’ll generate body heat. If you have a tent, even better! If you weren’t able to get some plastic for the windows, chances are your shower curtain will work fine. Basically, you just want to seal any airflow, but allow as much sunlight in as possible and most shower curtains are somewhat see through. 

The room you choose to stay in should have carpet or at least rugs. This will help insulate the room and hold in heat, too. Grab any and all rugs from around the house and layer them on the floor (yes, even if the room has carpet). 

CAREFULLY light up the candles. Candles can offer additional heat, as well as light. But you have to realize the fire risk that they come with. If you choose to use them, make sure they’re safely secured and away from flammables. If you invest in some soap stone, you can heat it and they’ll stay nice and warm (generating heat) well after the heat source is gone. Another and probably cheaper option would be clay planting pots. 

If you’re using candles, propane heaters, kerosene heaters, etc. make sure you’re ventilating the area enough to keep the air clean. A carbon monoxide monitor would ideal to have.

Obviously, warm clothes should be used. Light cotton layers work wonderfully.

What do you do to stay warm? Have you endured days of no power in the middle of winter and have tricks up your sleeve to share? If so, please do comment and let us know.