I am currently a New York native living in the state of Texas. A few weeks ago, the state of Texas experienced a snow and ice storm that it was not prepared for. As a previous New York resident I was pretty certain it wouldn’t be a big deal. A few inches of snow didn’t seem like any reason for me to worry. However, living in a state that is simply not prepared for these types of weather events made a huge impact on how things were handled. Without getting into too much political detail, poor decisions had been made within the state which resulted in millions of people losing power, heat, and water.
I was among one of the millions affected by the loss of water. I was without water and heat for five days. That seems like a pretty good scenario compared to the people who are still without water, going on two weeks after the storm.
What Should I Do?
So what do you do when you lose your heat? It’s below freezing out and you have no heater to stay warm. Whether you’re safely indoors or surviving outside, here are some things that could help. These ideas certainly did help me out.
If we’re being realistic, it is best to change your mindset from needing to heat the entire home to needing to heat a small location. If you’re wanting to keep your entire house warm and cozy during a time when you are without heat, water, and/or power you would have needed to plan ahead. Having a backup generator is one of the ways that you might be able to fulfill this. Having a wood-burning stove might also be a way to help heat an entire home. However, this just isn’t as realistic as some of the other options.
Heat a Small Space
It is a lot more realistic and a lot easier to heat up a small space. Think bedroom or living room, not the entire house. Camping out in one room is the best way to ensure warmth. Gather all your family members, this includes pets, and hunker down in one closed-off location. If there is a way to shut a door, such as in a bedroom, then that’s an even better idea.
Gather necessary items that can provide warmth such as additional layers of clothing, blankets, pillows, etc. Sharing a space with a large number of bodies will definitely help to keep you warm. If you are alone, you should also be just fine. However, being next to someone can help to produce additional warmth.
If You Have Power/Fuel
If you have access to your electricity then you’re definitely in luck. Hopefully, you have a space heater and can plug that in to keep in the room with you.
A fireplace is also a viable option if you have the resources to do so. Ideally, your fireplace would be in a room that is not open-concept. Be sure you aren’t leaving a gas fireplace on for too many hours, you’ll want to be mindful of proper ventilation and carbon monoxide poisoning. You can also try placing a small fan near the fireplace and turn the oscillation on. This helps to push the warm air around the room and will help to evenly disperse the warmth.
If you don’t have a fireplace but you have access to an indoor-use gas heater this may also be a viable option. If you do decide to use a propane/butane heater you’ll need to be sure you are never leaving it unattended. Turning it on for a few hours at a time is okay as long as it is being watched consistently.
If You Don’t Have Power/Fuel
Let’s suppose you have no heat, no water to heat the tank, and no power. You have absolutely no way to help warm up. Or do you? If you have a tent, this is a great time to use it. Bust out the tent and pop that thing up in the living room. Again, we are thinking about heating a smaller space instead of a larger one. If you don’t have a tent then you can channel your inner child and create a tent or a fort out of blankets and sheets if your heart desires.
If you have a tent available, I’d assume you may also have some sleeping bags. Sleeping bags are a great way to stay warm, even if you’re inside your home. Bundling up inside one of these is definitely a great way to preserve the warmth.
Mylar thermal blankets will also help to keep you warm. These are often used to line bushcraft shelters, however, they can also be used indoors and for these exact types of situations.
Don’t Do This
These ideas might seem like common sense, but it is never a good idea to place a space heater underneath any other fabrics such as a comforter. Do not put the space heater inside of a tent. Do not leave a heater of any kind on and unattended. Do not light a fire in your home unless there is a fireplace. Using a personal grill to start a fire inside of the home is extremely unsafe.
You should also be mindful of being wet. You may think a warm bath or shower, if you have access to water, is going to help. Being cold and wet can actually make it worse. If you do happen to get your clothes wet, from venturing outside, etc., be sure to change into dry clothes as quickly as possible.
From my own personal experience of living several days in below-freezing temperatures without heat, I came to rely on numerous layers, blankets, and cuddling with my pets. If you have endured a power or heat outage in your area, what did you do to stay warm during that time?