Surviving a power outage in Subzero weather

You’re going about your everyday life and a nasty winter storm hits. Your power goes out, and you’re completely snowed in without a chance of getting out. You quickly realize your house will soon start to get cold, real cold!

Snow Storm

What can you do to stay warm?

Well hopefully you prepared for this kind of problem in advanced, but let’s look at some options that you might have.

  • Wood Stove – If you don’t have one, get one! Even a cheap, used wood stove will provide more than enough heat to warm you during an emergency.
  • Create a Warm Room – Find the smallest room in your house, and wall it off with thick heavy blankets. It’s easier to heat, or keep heat in a small area than it is to heat a large house.
  • Backpackers Stove – A Small backpackers stove can be used to heat water. The hot water can then be put in water bottles and shoved into a sleeping bag to keep you warm.
  • Put on your Winter Gear – Hats, gloves, and coats. It may be uncomfortable to wear when you’re trying to sleep, but you’re trying to stay warm, not comfortable.
  • Tent – In your small room, you can also set up a small tent to sleep in. It will capture your body heat, and help you to stay warm at night.
  • Dress in Layers and make sure you stay dry. If you start to sweat remove a layer at a time.
  • Candles – A couple of good candles in a small bathroom sized room can actually provide enough heat to keep you warm.
  • Eat Something – Eating can actually help keep you warm; it can be especially important right before bed. If you eat right before going to bed, the energy your body uses to digest your food can keep you warm at night.
  • Make a Fort – Remember making forts when you were a kid? Well, those fort making skills are going to come in handy. Making a blanket fort can help capture heat, and can help you get through until the power comes back on.

Prepare Before it Happens: Stocking up on some of these items can help you prepare for winter power outages.

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  1. Your site is great, but please stop spreading the myth that humans lose the most heat through their heads. This is based on a flawed military study that dressed men in full winter suits *without* hats, then measured where they lost the most heat. The results weren’t surprising, but have been misused ever since. More recent research shows that we lose heat equally over our bodies. While wearing a hat is important, it is not the magic trick people like to pretend it is.

    Here is one source. You can find a million others through Google.

  2. While heat loss may be equally distributed across the body, we are most often wearing clothes. Often, the ONLY uncovered places on our body (in semi-cold weather) are our hands and heads. Therefore, MOST of the time, MOST of us are losing MOST of our heat through our heads.

    Also, the body likes to keep the vital organs and brain warm (because we can’t live without them.) Therefore, by keeping your head warm yourself (with a hat), you’re allowing the body to try to keep other parts warm.

    Are my conclusions scientific? No.

    Are they common sense? Yes.

    Personally, I can run in 35 F degree weather in shorts and a long sleeve jacket with a hat and gloves. But without a hat I would need to wear pants and I would most likely still be a bit cold.

  3. We lost power for three days in the South in ’93 due to an unusual snowstorm. Our house was totally electric and it was freezing cold. We managed because our fireplace had a gas log starter feature which did work. We hung sheets over all the doorways and burned the gas flame whenever the room got cold. Now I live way out in the country we installed propane gas logs in our fireplace with a tank outside. It really helps keep our house warm and saves us money too!

  4. Actually eating causes loss of heat. The blood goes to our core to digest which makes all our extremities colder. This according to Bear Grills, I think. :)

  5. I always feel warmer when I wear a hat, and this year I notice wearing a scarf is very warming. I also find that keeping feet warm makes a huge difference. I have done all the other stuff in the house, it all helps, esp thick blankets on Windows and over doors.

  6. Oil lamps put out much more light and heat than candles do, you could heat a small room with 2 or 3 of them. Or even better, you can keep an Alladin lamp which will put out even more light and heat and heat a room with just 1!

  7. How do I get water and food before the power grid goes out? How do I use the bathroom if we don’t have water to fill the toilet? How do I take a shower?
    I want to survive I don’t wanna die I am young!!

    • You can live a long time without food. If you have a shovel dig a hole, go potty there, cover it up like the Native Americans did. It would be best not to take a shower, you are removing the oil, which keeps heat in. Do like the Eskimos, cover yourself with oil, lard, etc. That will make you extra warm. After the Power comes back on, take a bath. lol

  8. Today I paid a visit to a store named(JUST IN CASE). It has everything for survival including packaged & Canned foods the right way so that it does not spoil but, stays fresh for months even years. Check it out & ask all the questions you want to. An individual will educate you on exactly what you need to survive.

    • Canned food it great, but… If it freezes, it will bust open. Also eventually, food canned nowadays will go bad, and after about 4 or 5 years, it will bust open and spill out. Now canned food from WWII would still be good. I ate some when I was a kid, and it still tasted good. But they don’t can food that way anymore. Dried food is great, but most taste really bad… Honey will never go bad, and bread can be kept in the freezer, just make sure you don’t leave it in the plastic bag, unless you like plastic tasting bread.

  9. These are all practical ideas. We live in a rural area and last year we got over 200 inches of snow and lost power three times. We bought a portable 7KW generator about ten years ago and I wired our house so I can plug it into the outside of the house and disconnect my house from the grid. This is critical and the work should be performed by a professional electrician so you don’t back feed the grid but it’s so worth it because you can utilize your existing home wiring. It has seen us through countless power outages, some during severe snowstorms and it offers enough power to run all essential equipment if you use your head. We keep 20 gallons of gas for it on hand that we rotate out to keep it fresh. This is enough for about three or four days constant use on mine depending on how much power we use. By far this has been the simplest most effective way I’ve found to keep my family safe and warm. Even if you never have to use it, it’s still comforting to know you have a plan. Also, you should consider some form of supplementary heat and have two or three ways to heat your home i.e. wood, propane, oil etc. just in case. At least one of these should be able to run without electricity for three days. As a final note, test any emergency equipment regularly for proper operation so it works when you need it.

  10. This is very helpful. I just learned of an acquaintance living in the Russia satellite country of Georgia. There power has been out and they fear freezing to death. I sent onto them your ideas.
    Thank you,

  11. I do wonder how you would have some fresh air, and not get carbon dioxide poisoning if the tiny room you are staying in is completely sealed up. You might want to refer to how to prevent both carbon monoxide poisoning and carbon dioxide poisoning in your article somewhere.

  12. I have a wood burning stove in my home and it works great, however this past winter here there was a night that got down to -39F and I’m not sure my wood stove would have been able to heat the whole house at that temp. Fortunately we didn’t lose power.
    I’m building a wood “fort” for the kids in the back yard, and I have a Four Dog wood burning tent stove that I’m going to put in the fort.
    These stoves are made for 14 X 16 tents down to -30F. Inside a smaller, wind proof fort, it’d probably easily stay warm at -50F.
    I’ve tested its use in tents at temperatures around 17F, and the tent stayed warm.

  13. Buy a specialty tent, and sleeping bag. I mean specialty as sub freezing. They will keep you so warm, even in freezing temperatures, you will want to open it up.

  14. My papa was a very smart man before he left this place he made sure that he gave us knowledge and a lot of folks did not respect him because he was old, but this is just a small amount because there was so much so if wise listen:: keep bbq.pit,keep lots of coals even for poison’coal’/Snow:lots of rice bury in snow after on pit,quilts lots made to your body with needles&T,Sic..check out,100candles”use wisely,medi’kit,honey with comb,knifes,now dig this bacon fat??? for to eat and save to rub on skin and feel your animals there is so much he told us and we learned a lot, and I”ll friends too” but this is really what got me maybe your doctor will tell you”always keep a bottle of gin and whiskey I will tell you about the gin it is the only drink with quinine in it”get some fast” there is so much that I want to say to you peoples.I wish they would let me put my email up’ God Bless.

  15. For emergency store some wool blankets, wear wool hats, gloves & socks, use barbecue to heat up bricks/soapstone/rocks. It is easier to keep yourself warm then the whole room(s)being occupied. Pick a room that provides the greatest daytime sunlight. Black pillows or water jugs can capture that sunlight in the form of heat, then give it off at night.Use extra throw rugs or blankets on the floor

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