A freak winter storm has cut off power in your area, and they are predicting that it will not return for three days. How do you keep your family alive in freezing temperatures? Here are ten tips to keep from freezing during winter’s harshest weather.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in some of the coldest climates on earth? I’ll be real with you – it might kill me. We frequently visit a relative’s house during the winter. Our room is upstairs in a converted attic. If I forget to crack the door at night (we’re used to sleeping with our doors closed at home), our room is so cold by morning. And by cold, I mean probably only in the upper 50’s, but I’m freezing to death, even under all the blankets and in flannels.
But there are sturdier men and women, unlike me, living in the harshest climates, and doing it well.
Meet my friend, Rhonda Van Zandt. She lives in Alaska with her husband out in the wilderness. They shop in town once a year, they provide their own food and meat through gardening, foraging, and hunting. She amazes me with all of her knowledge of things preparedness, survival, off-grid living and more! Here are her tips for staying warm in frigid weather!
10 Ways Not to Freeze in the Winter
(or How Not to Die at 40 Below!)
Layer Your Clothing
A t-shirt (or thermal shirt) with a shirt over it, a sweater or two, then a coat, hat, mittens, warm socks, and boots. If you are too warm remove a layer. You will look fat, just get over it. And get these hand warmers. There’s nothing worse than hands and feet that are just too cold. Stick these in your pockets or under your feet to keep warmer.
• Read more — How to Dress in Extreme Weather
Close Off Rooms
Rooms that have no water pipes or stored liquids, and aren’t where you are spending all of your time don’t need the heat. Close doors and hang a blanket over doors. Small areas are best for staying warm in. This also helps conserve your fuel for keeping you warm longer.
Alternatively, if you are trying to do most of your living in a smaller area, hang blankets over entryway or hallways (use heavy-duty tension rods and thick curtains or blankets), that allow passage through, but help contain heat into the area you’re living in.
Use Ceiling Fans
Heat rises so place a fan near ceilings in occupied rooms to move heat from ceiling’s back into living areas. If you have a ceiling fan, you have 2 options for movement. Make sure your fan is adjusted to move clockwise to move warm air down for winter.
Air seeps in through cracks and windows. Even if your house is well insulated. In extreme weather, use the extra insulating effect of blankets over doors and windows to help. Do not let those covers touch the glass because they can freeze to the surface and form dead air spaces. You can seal windows with a window sealing kit to help keep them insulated and layering blankets over it for a double insulation effect. And as always, keep your home well sealed by making sure all windows, doors, and joints are caulked well.
Using blankets or towels on door bases can stop drafts from entering in your living area. There are great draft guard kits to use for permanent fixing, but just using sheets or extra clothing can be enough in extreme circumstances, even for interior doors.
• Preparedness Quick Tip: Use Bubble Wrap to Insulate Windows
Good Ventilation is a Must
DO NOT heat your small places with Kerosene or Charcoal or wood stoves without proper ventilation as you can die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Follow all safety precautions when using those or propane heaters to make sure that you don’t poison your family. Also, keep oil lamps in proper working order and in safe spaces to protect from accidental fires.
Keep Pipes Clear
Running cold water in a very small stream running in will help your pipes from freezing. If they freeze, do not try to thaw them with a hairdryer. If you cannot use heat tape just leave them frozen as hopefully you have prepped drinking water and drained the water from your toilets so they do not freeze and crack if the bathroom is freezing up. If your pipes do freeze and burst, make sure to turn off your water supply. Hopefully, you’ve also prepared and insulated any outdoor pipes running into the house.
(Editorial note – using a heat gun to heat the air around a pipe to facilitate thawing is good, but using it directly on a PVC pipe can actually cause more damage. And if the freezing in your pipes is extensive, a hair dryer just isn’t going to help).
• Read More – What to Do if Your Pipes are Frozen
If you lose power, are out of fuel to heat, have nothing left to burn, or are snowed in and isolated, think very small. Put up a tent inside, or build a fort in your living room or other room that is most interior without pipes or cold floors. Pack yourselves in because more bodies create more heat. Use all of your blankets and sleeping bags to keep warm. One candle can also generate heat in the space (just, for goodness sake, be careful!).
Drink lots of liquids as hypothermia sets in fast when you are not hydrated. Warm teas can help you feel warmer and keep you hydrated at the same time.
Cracking a Door at Night
In houses with central heating, you can help the flow of heat between rooms so that you get good coverage. In a house we frequent in the winter when closing off one of the rooms upstairs, it gets exponentially colder, even though it has a heat register inside. But by cracking the door, it allows the heat to flow from room to room and keep that room warmer. This, of course, is good when your single heat source isn’t in that room.
Top Off Your Anti-freeze
Make sure to top off your anti-freeze in your cars. Otherwise, your radiator will freeze, it will crack, and you won’t have a working car. And while this won’t keep you warm inside your house, it can be problematic if you absolutely must get to an ER for something. It can also be a last ditch effort to stay warm by running a heater in the car if there is damage to your house that can’t allow you to stay inside.
The human mind is your worst enemy, and there is truth in the words scared silly…take an attitude of positive thought and you will be amazed at what you can do. Don’t just give up and sit there and die ..you can do it! People have done it for centuries, and so can you!
Your thoughts: Do you have other ideas on how to keep you and your family warm in extreme cold?
I love helping people feel more at ease about their preparedness. Preparedness doesn’t have to overwhelming, scary, or about an upcoming doomsday. Simple everyday preparations can put your mind at ease and help you out in a sticky situation.