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Winter Power Failure

Surviving Winter: How to Stay Warm When the Power Fails

Are you in an area that relies on gas or electricity to provide warmth? Are you prepared to handle a survival situation if you were to lose that convenience? Here are some simple strategies to stay warm in an unheated home.

Think Ventilation

When in a cold house, most people search for and seal up the enclosure so that no cold air can enter. This is a grave mistake. You are in more danger of fire, lack of oxygen or carbon monoxide poisoning than you are of freezing to death in your home. Remember, you still need fresh air to breathe.

Select a room  

Choose a smaller room for your emergency heat (think bathroom size). It is a good idea to pick a room that is not subject to regular winds, and gets a good amount of sun. Avoid rooms with large windows. A basement is also a great choice, as you are underground with insulated cement walls. Whatever room you choose, try and isolate a space from the rest of the house by closing all doors and perhaps erecting temporary cardboard or wood dividers.

Sources of Heat

Candles and wood burning fireplaces are great sources of warmth. Other sources of heat include gas or oil space heaters, or catalytic camp stoves. Have someone watch for fire whenever alternate heating sources are used. There should be someone designated to stay awake to stoke the fire or to make sure the ventilation is adequate. If they begin to feel tired or they get a headache, it may be a sign of poor ventilation. Keep firefighting materials ready, such as a chemical extinguisher, water, sand, blankets or tarps that keep fire from receiving oxygen. 

If you do not have access to an alternative heat source, consider building a Dona Justa stove by removing window glass and replacing it with a metal sheet. Puncture a stove pipe through the sheet metal, and you will have a natural source of warmth.

Also remember that our bodies produce heat. Wear as many layers as you feel comfortable in to trap your body heat. Your bed may be the warmest place to be, so bring everyone in one room and sleep close together (including animals). Use heavy quilts and extra blankets for added warmth.

Trap the heat in by covering windows with thick blankets or plastic.

Food and Water

When your body is cold, it requires more energy to keep warm. Make sure to keep your fluids and calorie intake up so your body has enough to keep you going. As with any emergency preparation, it is important to have a survival kit for each family member that includes water and food to keep them sustained for at least 72 hours, if not more.

Planning ahead for emergencies is an essential part of surviving in cold weather. Using the tips above will help you plan out your strategy for dealing with a cold, powerless house.


Christine Brockman is a web writer, publisher and a survival fanatic. She enjoys the great outdoors; checking out the latest survival gear and camping with her family.   


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