Arendelle it is not but it seems like Texas is fast becoming the setting for the next Frozen film. In all seriousness, though, Texas is experiencing one of the worst winter storms to date. In fact, President Joe Biden has already placed it under a state of emergency as Texans are trying to find ways to survive extreme cold brought about by the winter storm.
The problems keep piling up as the record-setting temperature damaged key infrastructures resulting in millions of Texans without electricity to help keep them warm. And if those aren’t enough, the extreme low temperature and loss of power also resulted in water shortage. As tough as our Texan brothers and sisters are, they really need help right now. One way to do so is to donate to programs sending much needed relief to the affected Americans.
If you’re in Texas and happen to come across this article, we hope the tips we have listed down here will help you get over this nightmare. Others who are safe and warm in their homes right now should take this as an opportunity to learn how to survive extreme cold without electricity and other similar scenarios.
How To Keep Warm When Power Goes Out
It’s hard to stay warm without an electric heater but it’s not impossible. Back in the day, there was no such thing as a heater. Go further in time and there wasn’t even electricity. Despite these obstacles, humans managed to survive. You can survive extreme cold without electricity, too, if you follow these simple tips.
Keep the Cold Out
It’s quite obvious but you need to make sure the cold can’t get in your home. Close all windows and doors, including the garage door. Don’t forget to close all interior doors and windows, too. This should help keep cold air from circulating inside.
Cover the spaces under your doors with rolled up towels if you don’t have rubber weather stripping. These safety precautions are doubly important since winter storms may bring strong winds. Having such open spaces is like inviting the storm to blow your house away.
Check for holes, cracks and other openings around your home where the cold draft can seep through. Apply duct tape, weather sealing tape, or foam sealant as a quick fix. Once possible, fix these cracks the right way. Hire a professional if you can’t do it yourself. Avoid rushing to cover the cracks by regularly checking your walls and other structures for damages. Repair them immediately before they worsen.
Install or Add Insulation
Your home needs proper insulation to regulate the temperature inside. It keeps your home warm during cold days and cool when it gets too hot outside. Upon construction of your home, you should have installed reflective insulation between the roof and the ceiling. As for the walls, spray foam insulation works best.
If you’re buying or renting, check if there is proper insulation first. While most homes have insulation, more may be necessary if it gets extremely cold. If you have an attic, you better insulate it too. Cold air can easily get through here. Do the necessary repairs before moving in.
During winter storms, you may need to do some last-minute insulating to survive extreme cold. Get the heavy drapes out and replace your sheers. The thick curtains will help against the cold. If it gets really bad, cover your windows with plastic sheets or garbage bags and duct tape for additional insulation. Check the sides of the windows. Apply weather sealing tape to make sure you keep the cold out.
Stay Warm Inside
It will be freezing cold outside during a winter storm. In Texas right now, the temperature is dangerously low and being caught outside can be fatal. Unless you are told to evacuate, you should shelter in place for a better chance to survive extreme cold. That may not be enough, though. You need to take steps to not die from the cold inside your home.
Use Fireplace Safely
If you have a fireplace, use it with caution. It’s completely possible for a house to burn down because of improper use and maintenance of a fireplace. Make sure to have it checked and cleaned regularly, especially before winter sets in. Cracks should be repaired and creosote build-up should be removed. These will prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Before using your fireplace, make sure there are no flammable materials nearby. Of course, it goes without saying that gas, kerosene and paint should be nowhere near your fireplace or even your kitchen stove. Store them in a safe place outside your home.
Don’t leave the fire unattended. Use your fireplace poker and a spray bottle with water to control the fire. Place a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby in case you need it. If you’re done using your fireplace, put the flames out completely and make sure there are no more burning embers before leaving it.
Use Solar Heaters
Electric heaters are useful until power goes kaput. That’s what the Texans are experiencing right now. Because of the rolling blackouts, they have to suffer from the extreme cold.
Consider investing on a solar air heater. It should be able to provide heat for your home even on winter months. Solar air heaters are energy efficient but are more effective heating up a small room than the whole house. What you can do is to use the solar air heater in a designated room where everyone will gather during extreme cold weather. Use your electrical heating system for the whole house on normal days and the solar heater during blackouts.
A solar water heater, meanwhile, will heat up your water so you can take hot, relaxing showers. However, this system requires direct sunlight. As long as the sun is out, you should have hot water.
Stay In One Room
If you don’t have a fireplace where the family can gather, you should stay in the centermost room in your home. This is the safest part of your house to be in during snowstorms and hurricanes. During such calamities, you should stay away from doors and windows since the strong winds can damage them. When that happens, you can get hurt by broken glass and other flying debris.
Designate a safe room that is well-insulated. Bring food, water and other supplies inside so you don’t have to leave the room that much. Of course, you may have to check the rest of the house from time to time to see if it’s holding up. Also, you need to make warm meals so you have to leave your safe room for the kitchen.
Keep Your Body Warm
Preparing your home and making it as winter proof as possible is a good start. It may not be enough, though. You need to exhaust every means possible to survive winter storms, especially when power goes out.
The body produces heat. You need the right kinds of clothes to keep that heat in. You also need layers of clothes to further keep your body warm.
Wear thermal underwear as your base layer. They are made specifically to keep your body warm. Next is sweat-wicking clothes. You need to draw moisture away from your body while also keeping the heat in. If you wear cotton, the sweat will stay and make you feel even colder.
The next layers are made up of vests, long-sleeved shirts, jackets, long pants, and wool socks. You also need a pair of gloves, scarf, and a beanie or other headwear that protects your crown from the cold. Earmuffs and face masks would be great, too.
Cover Yourself Up
Make sure you have enough wool blankets at home for everyone to use. Wool blankets are great for trapping body heat while also being fire-resistant. Aside from wool blankets, you can also cover yourself with regular blankets, thermal blankets, ponchos and tarps. If by some dumb luck that you don’t have any of these, you can use newspapers and garbage bags.
Set Up a Tent
Even if you’re indoors, you should set up your tent and stay inside. The tent will act as another barrier against the cold. Use your sleeping bags and sleeping pads, as well. Sleeping bags help trap the heat your body produces. Sleeping pads, meanwhile, keep your back warm. They will certainly help you survive the cold, especially when you have to get some shuteye.
People who can’t afford housing and decent winter clothes make do with some everyday items to survive extreme cold. As seen in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, the homeless man stuffed crumpled newspaper pages inside his clothes. That’s actually a brilliant way to insulate yourself during extreme cold temperatures. You can also use dried grass or leaves though that can be a bit itchy.
Consume Warm Food and Drinks
You can warm your body from the inside by drinking hot fluid and eating hot meals. It’s therefore important that you have ways to cook meals and boil water even without electricity. You have to be doubly careful using the stove and other means, though. As mentioned, prolonged use may lead to carbon monoxide buildup.
In case the extreme cold weather decides to extend its stay, you may run out of fuel. This is possible if you are not prepared for such scenarios. Invest on a portable stove that uses smokeless fuel tablets for cooking.
The LifeShield 1-Person Mess Kit by Frog & CO, for example, is great for making quick hot meals as well as boiling water. While using it outdoors is still the best option, using it as quick as possible indoors should post that much of a threat. Just make sure you use it near ventilation and as fast as you can. That means you can only make meals that cook fast such as instant soups.
Use Hand and Body Warmers
Another way to stay warm and survive extreme cold temperature without electricity is to use hand and body warmers. These cold weather must-haves are small packets that produce heat through exothermic reaction.
Aside from the single-use hand warmers, there are rechargeable versions like the QuickHeat Rechargeable Hand Warmer with Portable Power Bank. Such small devices, however, need electricity to function. It’s still a good idea to have one, though. Just make sure it’s fully charged at all times so that it has enough juice to charge your phone and warm your hands when you need to.
Heat Water Bottles
Fill water bottles or water bags with hot water and use it to stay warm. If they’re too hot to place directly on your skin, you could wrap them in towel first. You can also just leave it near you. The heat from the heated water bottle should help warm things up.
Keep your blood pumping and your body warm by doing some physical activities. Exercises such as jumping jacks and burpees should help you stay warm.
Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
You already well aware of the dangers of using fire inside your home. However, you may not have much choice since you need to stay warm to survive extreme cold without electricity. Just make sure not to leave your fireplace, wood stove and candles unattended. You also need to move flammable materials away from these fire sources, as discussed previously.
It’s also important to have battery-operated fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed. The current situation in Texas has so far resulted in cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, there were 450 calls related to carbon monoxide made to the Texas Poison Center since last week. That’s just in one agency. There are surely more cases in hospitals and such.
Avoid Using A Generator Inside
Generators are pretty useful during power outages. However, they can be deadly when used wrong. First of all, you don’t use it indoors. A generator releases fumes, which can be deadly. Place it outside about 20 feet from any window. Just make sure it is protected from the elements.
Don’t Use Fuel-Burning Equipment for Too Long
Avoid using the stove or oven on for heat. Use it only for cooking and boiling water. Prolonged use will lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your enclosed home and will eventually be hazardous.
The fireplace, furnace, space heaters, and even your dryer produce carbon monoxide. If you have to use them, use them sparingly. Some Texans are reportedly using charcoal grills to stay warm. This is not safe. In fact, a family of six was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after using their charcoal grill indoors to stay warm.
Don’t Keep Warm In A Car with A Running Engine
A large number of carbon monoxide poisoning cases each year happen inside closed vehicles. Never stay inside your car for too long if the engine is running. Avoid using it to warm yourself.
The fumes from the exhaust pipe can also build up inside the garage and seep through the door leading inside your home. If left running for too long, the people inside the garage or even in the house can suffer from serious illnesses or death.
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