I’ve been a prepper for years but during this recent winter storm in Texas, I learned I’ve got some weak areas.
I also learned some tips from people who weren’t prepared and how they managed to stay warm in their homes.
Indoor stoves, thermal blankets, battery-operated lanterns, freeze-dried foods, etc. will come in very useful when you have no electricity and it’s freezing outside but in case you aren’t prepared here are some things you can do to survive the cold.
It won’t be easy… but it can be done.
1. Layer your clothes
This is probably the most obvious step and yet, people get it wrong. Start off by wearing innerwear that’s not made of cotton. If you sweat under your layer of cotton clothes, your perspiration will conduct the cold better and you’ll feel even more chilly.
It’s best to wear some thermal innerwear that wicks away your perspiration… followed by a few shirts on top of that, mittens, socks, etc.
Wearing gloves and socks is CRUCIAL to staying warm because your extremities tend to get cold faster due to the reduced blood circulation. Over and above that, when your hands and feet are cold, your entire body will feel cold.
Never stand barefoot on the floor during cold weather. Your body radiates heat and it will be absorbed by the ground and you’ll feel colder. It’s better to wear shoes or rubber slippers which don’t conduct cold as well.
2. Smaller is warmer
Ideally, you should stay in just one bedroom that has a connecting bathroom/toilet. The smaller the room, the easier it will be to keep it warm. Try and get all your family members to stay in this room throughout the day so that their body heat radiates out and raises the temperature of the room.
It would be a good idea to stay in a room upstairs in your house because heat rises up. It may not make that big of a difference, but every bit helps.
Keep the room of your door closed and place a towel at the bottom of the door to prevent cold drafts.
Even within the room, you can get ‘smaller’.
What does that mean?
It means you should set up a foldable (pop-up) tent in your bedroom and huddle up inside the tent. Now your living area has become even smaller and the heat from your body is trapped within the tent.
Covering up with a pile of blankets (preferably wool) will help to keep you warm. Cold weather has a tendency to seep into your bones. It actually feels like that, but if you use blankets and layer up, you’ll raise your core temperature and feel warmer.
You may even wish to use a sleeping bag then cover yourself with blankets while staying inside the tent. Once you understand the principle of trapping heat within a micro-environment, you’ll know what you need to do.
3. Wear your mask
Masks are just not for COVID-19. By wearing a mask, you prevent your body from radiating heat (as much). So, you’ll stay warmer. It also helps to cover your face and keep it warm. Use a cloth mask if you have one.
4. Wear a balaclava
If you have one, wear it.
5. Use a hot water bottle
Heat water and pour it into a hot water bottle. Of course, since the power is out, you’ll need to use a portable stove to boil the water if you don’t have a gas stove.
This is why it’s of paramount importance to be prepared and have all these crucial items ready for you to use when the proverbial ‘sh*t hits the fan’. Or in this case, when life hits you with freezing weather and a power outage.
6. Use this alternate way to make heat
If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace you’re very lucky.
My fireplace has gas logs and hardly warms up the space around it. (I need to rethink this)
If you don’t have a way to make heat you can try using a terracotta clay pot (usually used as a flower pot) placed on top of three bricks (arranged in a square with an opening) so that it’s elevated.
Now light 2-3 small tea light candles and place them under the pot.
The pot and the bricks will get hot and emanate heat throughout the room. You’ll be amazed to see that this method can actually heat up an entire room.
If you don’t have a pot or bricks, lighting a few candles will help to heat up the room. As long as there’s an open flame, the air in the room will heat up to some degree.
Warning: Never leave this unattended!!
It’s IMPERATIVE that you have a carbon monoxide alarm in your room/house, if you’re using indoor generators/wood stoves, etc. Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas that can knock you out (and even kill you) without you being aware.
This is why portable generators should always be placed away from the house. But of course, you need to be prepared enough to own one… and unfortunately, not many people are well-prepared.
Do get a portable generator and the fuel (NOT electricity) to power it. It’s one of the best decisions you could make as a survivalist.
7. Keep cold out
Besides just doing your best to stay warm, you’ll also need to be proactive at keeping the cold out. Close the doors of all your rooms. Hang thick blankets on windows to prevent the cold from seeping in. Place towels at the bottom of all doors to prevent drafts.
8. Stay hydrated
Hydrate often even if you’re not thirsty. If you can drink warm water, that’s even better.
Avoid coffee. It indirectly makes you feel colder once the effects of the caffeine wear off.
9. Drink alcohol sparingly
Liquor can be used to make you feel warm temporarily… and is best used ONLY if you’re cold to the point where your teeth are chattering and you feel weak.
A peg of bourbon may make you feel warm quickly BUT this is just a short-term measure if you’re feeling very cold.
Alcohol is a vasodilator and will actually make you feel colder once the effects wear off. If you sweat, you’ll lose heat. It’ll affect your body’s natural temperature regulation.
So, consume it minimally and only when in desperate need – and quickly layer up with clothes and follow the pointers above to stay warm.
10. Eat food even if you don’t feel hungry
Eating will also help to raise your body’s temperature. Appetite may be the last thing you have when you’re feeling colder than the neighborhood snowmen, but you should eat regularly. It’ll not only fuel your body but also keep you warm.
11. Move around but not too much
Light exercise will help raise your body temperature and get your blood circulation going.
Doing a set or two of burpees or squats will be extremely helpful. Alternatively, 2 minutes of skipping will do the job as well.
Always remember not to exercise for too long. Short bouts will raise your metabolism… but if you start perspiring, you’ll lose heat and your efforts will be counterproductive. Less is more.
Video From Provident Prepper
I found this video after I wrote this post and it explains much of what I included with a few more tips. I love this family!
I hope these tips helped you!
If you are reading these tips in the middle of a crisis I hoped you found them helpful. Please, leave me a comment with other ideas you may have.
Excellent tips, Stacy. I am fortunate since we installed a gas-powered generator just before Hurricane Sandy hit us here in NJ in 2012. It’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done to be prepared. It powers almost the whole house, so it’s not as scary anymore when the electricity goes out. These units don’t come cheap, but IMHO, this has been worth the investment.
That is one thing I still need to get. There are so many different brands and sizes I’m having trouble deciding what to get.
Stacy, we went with Generac for our generator. The size was determined by the electrician we hired to install it. He asked us what was essential to put on the generator in the case of a power outage and he came up with the size/configuration of our electrical panel system.
This guy was installing them ‘on the side’ when we got ours and he now only does generator installs and maintenance. There’s been that much demand for putting in generators, he doesn’t do general electrical work anymore. All thanks to climate change. 😖
Thanks for the information. I’m going to get on top of it as soon as things get stable here.
I recently moved to Colorado, and my sister got stuck in bad road conditions on the 2hr drive from our house to hers. She had to spend the night in her car with her 7yo and the family dog. She’s an RN, former mountain rescue and an experienced backcountry skier, so we weren’t too worried. But Christmas was a month later, so I felt inspired to make my mom a car kit in case it happened to us – wool blanket, bottled water, several packs of 10-hour hand and toe warmers, power banks for gadgets, a car battery jumper-charger, granola bars and of course a deck of cards. My mother has a sister in Houston who we are now assembling a kit for, for next Christmas because who knows if crazy weather is here to stay. And yes, my mom talked her through everything from layering to opening the garage door when running your car to charge your phone and keep warm.
Making car kits are a great idea for Christmas gifts. Being prepared is the key here. Living in Texas I never played out the deep freeze scenario. I’ve always thought about the power going out in the summer.
Stacy, thank you for sharing these wonderful tips. I feel so bad for every out there in Texas. What a mess. I have many friends and family out there that have been struggling without power or water. 🙁 I just keep praying that everyone in TX will be ok. I also wanted to share that I have seen many posts about the bricks, a clay pot, and candles. They say it seems to help some. Just wanted to throw that out there. Thanks again for these wonderful tips. Best of luck. Hope things return to normal soon. Is it ok to say Texas Strong! lol
Thank you! It’s been a crazy week. I won’t feel out of the woods until tomorrow but I think this may not be the last time we experience hard times. I’m glad to have had the prepper mindset already but learning so much thru it all.
Those are very good tips!! They make sense, too. I will try to remember them in case it ever happens to me.
Thank you. I’m revising my prep list from all the tips I’m getting. I was prepared but I know there is more I could do so I can help others, too.
I am about to go solar!!! In the meantime, I take your tips to heart. I send you all the best from PA. Texas needs to socialize their grid.
A lot of our neighbors have solar but it couldn’t produce power without electricity. Go figure.
Great Info in This Blog Thanks For Sharing THis
Thanks! I learned a lot during the last week. Working on being even more prepared for the next time.