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Have you noticed it’s a little nippy in the air these days near Lehi, UT? I definitely have! I sure am grateful for the furnace that keeps my house warm and hot water heater that helps me take a hot shower. I’m thankful to drive in a warm car and a warm coat to wear when I’m out. Even though it’s cold outside, we rarely even notice. And one little ice storm can change all of that…
As a Lehi, UT area resident, have you thought about what you would do if your power were knocked out for a few days, maybe even a week? It happens all winter long as winter storms hit. Are you prepared to keep your family warm? I’ve been learning all about keeping warm and how to do it without power and thought I’d share. Print this information off, prepare now for what you can do, and keep it handy in case your power does go out when it’s cold.
Keeping Warm When The Power Goes Out – (adapted from Common Sense Homesteading)
It’s very cold and the power just went out. What do you do when a winter storm leaves you without power? Plan NOW for power outages near Lehi, UT, instead of trying to remember all this when you are freezing without power.
Keeping the House Warm Without Power
#1 – Eliminate Heat Loss
Avoid opening and closing exterior doors. If you need to go outside, go through a porch or garage that can act as an airlock to prevent colder air from entering the home.
Close all the interior doors in the house. This keeps unused exterior rooms from cooling your main living/survival area.
Block drafts – Place rolled up towel at the base of a front door or drafty door to keep heat in or cold out. Hang blankets over windows and doorways.
Insulate windows – Close your blinds/curtains to reduce heat loss.
Consider moving to the basement. – Even though basements are normally colder, they can be “warmer” because of the insulating quality of the ground. 45 degrees ground temperature is a lot better than 20 below zero air temperature, especially with high winds.
#2 – Safely Add Heat to the House (do not use any type of camping stove indoors)
Wood stoves – If you have a wood stove, fire it up and keep it burning. If you have a limited amount of wood, burn at regular intervals, letting it get quite cold between burns.
Use the sun for heat. If it’s sunny, open the blinds on the sunny side of the house. Place dark blankets in direct sun to soak up the sun’s heat. As soon as the sun goes down re-insulate the windows.
Add extra heat before you lose power – If you have some warning that the power will go out, set the temperature higher in your house. The warmer it is to start, the longer it will take to cool.
Run a bathtub of hot water. It will add heat to the house, and you will be able to drink it if needed (probably filter it if you have a water filter). Drain if your home is close to freezing.
Open Flame – USE WITH CAUTION – **Do not burn anything larger than a candle inside your home without providing adequate ventilation to the outside. Keep a fire extinguisher right near whatever open flame heat source you are using. Carbon monoxide and fire can be deadly. Pay special attention to kids and pets with any open flame.
Indoor rated propane and kerosene heaters with proper ventilation.
Terra cotta pot heater. These will trap heat and spread to a small room.
Conserve Heat by Living in One Room
When faced with an extended power outage, living and sleeping in a single room will help conserve heat.
Select a room away from the prevailing winds. If you have a room in your house that normally stays warmer than the rest of the house, that’s probably a good choice.
Hang blankets over the door to your “warm” room, and insulate the window with blankets if possible. Use painters tape, duct tape or other tape to seal the blanket over the window.
If by chance you have spare pillows, couch cushions, fiberglass insulation, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam sheets, those can be used to cover windows, too. Build a fort!
Heat may also be lost through the floor. Put blankets, rugs or pillows on the floor to further insulate the room.
Put a blanket over the table to seal out air. Crawl underneath and you will be surprised at the heat.
Choose the Right Clothing to Stay Warm
Layer your clothes – include wool and/or Thinsulate if you have it.
Loose layers will keep you warmer than tight layers.
Wear gloves under mittens to trap more heat around your fingers. Remember, extremities are in the most danger from intense cold. If you have no gloves or need more warmth, wear socks over gloves.
If active, have a wicking layer close to your body to draw excess moisture away.
Look info foam clothing for extended exposure.
Use chemical hand warmers in gloves, footwear or pockets – but be careful because they may be too warm to place directly against the skin.
Keeping Warm While You Sleep
A bulk of your heat loss is through your head, so put on a warm hat or other head cover to sleep.
Use a sleeping bag if you have it. Wool is an amazing insulator, so combining a wool blanket a cotton sheet and even a mediocre sleeping bag can give you a very warm bed.
Use fur or fleece if you have it. Both are great insulators and can add some comfort.
Put on warm socks/slippers or even boots. Watch those extremities!
Sleeping in a group to share body heat. Make a “hut” like little kids make. Enclose a small sleeping area with blankets and sleep close together. The less room to heat, the warmer you will be.
Eating and Drinking for Warmth and Safety
Your body will need more calories just to stay warm. If you are active (which will also help you stay warm), your calorie needs will increase even more.
Eating raises your metabolism, which generates some additional internal heat. Consider a calorie dense bedtime snack to help get you through the night.
Make sure to keep hydrated. Drink plenty of liquid. Hot beverages such as tea or hot chocolate can act as hand warmers while you drink and warm you from the inside out. They also add variety to emergency meals. You can melt snow for water if needed.
Personal Hygiene – When the Potty Won’t Flush and Washing Gets Tricky
We take toilets for granted. When the power goes out, most of us no longer have running water. You should have emergency water storage and filtration as part of your basic preparedness supplies.
When water is scarce, the “mellow yellow” rule should apply. Don’t flush the toilet unless you *really* need to. If you have no water for flushing, use a 5-gallon bucket and paper or sawdust to absorb liquid and odor.
Don’t bathe unless absolutely necessary. Getting wet is a quick way to get really cold. Keep some baby wipes on hand for waterless cleaning. If you still have running water, protect faucets that are at risk of freezing by turning on a pencil size stream of water.
Cars, Cards and Food Storage
Your car can be a refuge. If you seriously cold, you can start car up and heat up for a brief period. Bring blankets and other things that will get warmed up and bring them back in the house all toasty. **Remember – never run the car in an unventilated area. Carbon monoxide can be deadly.
Have something to help pass the time that doesn’t require power. Get a couple of decks of cards and a card game book. Board games are great, too.
Use the cold to keep food fresh. If the power is out and it’s warm enough inside that food in the refrigerator or freezer will spoil, move food to an unheated porch or garage or outside to take advantage of natural refrigeration.
I sincerely hope this is information you will NEVER have to use near Lehi, Utah but if you do, I’m hopeful it can help keep your toasty warm in any situation.
Have a great week!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.