How To Keep Warm When It’s Cold and the Power Is Out, From People Who’ve Done It

updated Feb 16, 2021
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Due to unusual snowfall and low temps, over four million people are without power in Texas, and some cities are advising those who do have power to reduce their electricity usage. But as anyone who lives in areas where winter weather is the norm, losing power can be common. Here are some tips for staying warm when both the temperature and the electricity drop off.

Bundle up

Never underestimate the power of layering. Instead of just throwing a coat on over a t-shirt, put on a tank top and t-shirt under your sweater or sweatshirt. Keep your feet warm with multiple pairs of socks before you put on slippers or shoes. Also, it’s no secret that a warm hat can work wonders. Keep the layers plentiful and loose. If you have access to hot water, consider filling a sealable hot water bottle and keeping it with you to stay warm. They can work wonders in bed at night. 

Block off openings

You’d be hard pressed to find a New Englander who doesn’t seal off a window during the winter. Tape that’s easy to peel off, like blue painting tape, is great for closing off the exposed crevices in windows, especially if they howl at night. On top of that, roll up towels or dish rags and place on window sills to keep the warmth inside. Closing curtains and shades can also be a tremendous help as well for keeping cold air out. Heavy towels are also great for placing under doors to prevent the draft from coming in. If you’re not in a specific room, close the door to keep the heat with you where you are. There’s no use in spreading the heat around to empty rooms. 

(Safely) bust out the candles

It’s important to have candles on hand for when the power goes out. Just be sure to do so safely, especially if you have kids or pets in the house. 

Leave the faucets dripping

The last thing you need during freezing weather is frozen pipes. If you can, leave the faucets dripping to ensure everything is still moving. If pipes do freeze up and you still have power, a hair dryer or heating pad can help defrost them in 20 minutes or so, but that’s a last resort. 

Watch out for carbon monoxide

In times of extreme cold, people can often turn to some dangerous things to stay warm. However, this is not the time to light outdoor grills or propane heaters inside. While you can sit in your car, be absolutely sure that you don’t do so with the garage door closed. 

If you have power, conserve it

Just because you have power one moment doesn’t mean it can’t disappear the next. In the meantime, do your best to conserve it. Keep the heat at a reasonable level, and only turn the lights on in rooms where it’s necessary. Avoid activities like doing laundry and running the dishwasher that use up power. 

Find your nearest emergency warming center

Your city may have emergency warming centers designed for occasions like this. They may not be home, but they offer safety from the dangerous temperatures. Also, if you’re able, be sure to check in on your neighbors who may not have access to everything they need. 

If you suspect someone has hypothermia, call 911.