Winter survival skills: How to heat your house even if the power goes out

In the middle of a frigid winter, staying warm can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. This normally won’t be a problem if your house has an adequate heating system. However, harsh winter storms may cause the power grid to fail, which means your heating system may not work if it relies on electricity. Stay warm even if the power goes out by following these winter survival strategies. (h/t to

Wear layers of warm clothing

Help reduce heat loss by wearing full body thermal underwear, a long-sleeved shirt or two, a warm sweater, a pair of thick socks, a jacket, a pull-over hat that can cover your ears, and a pair of gloves. This might seem overkill, but layers will save your life. The harder it is for heat to escape your body, the better.

Use hand and foot warmers

Avoid frozen fingers and toes by placing one of these in each of the gloves and socks you are wearing. These warming packs will need to be replaced every couple of hours.

Stay in one small room

Maximize what little heat you have by staying in one small room with as few windows as possible. It is ideal if you have other family members with you as you can huddle together to share body warmth. Seal the heat inside this room by leaving the door closed. In fact, you should close the doors and windows of every room in your house that you won’t be using. This can keep the cold out and the heat in. Once everyone is inside the room, you can all bundle up with several thick blankets. Fleece or wool blankets are the best at providing warmth.

Keep your blinds and curtains closed during nighttime

Curtains and blinds provide an extra barrier against the cold air outside. Make sure to cover your windows with duct tape and plastic before closing your blinds and curtains on them. If your window doesn’t have any curtains, cover it with a heavy blanket instead. You can also block any cold drafts with rolled up towels.

Use a portable generator

Now that you’ve achieved several ways to reduce heat loss, you should try to obtain a source of heat. The easiest way to get the power, and subsequently heat, back on is to use a portable generator. It should be able to keep a space heater running for some time, but if you happen to have a large standby generator, you might be able to use this to run your furnace. Make sure your generator gets refueled when necessary, so it would be wise to stock up on extra fuel. To avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, your generator should always remain outside and never be placed indoors. You can keep it protected from heavy snow by placing it under a porch or awning. (Related: Learn how to build an off-grid generating system to produce electricity in any situation.)

Use a portable heater

You can use portable propane heaters to keep a fairly large room warm. If the weather is agreeable, you can even invest in solar-powered heaters. Some solar-powered heating systems might come at a high price, but with a little know-how, you can cut costs by building your own solar heater.

Safely burn candles

You can light a few candles on a table to generate some extra heat, but be sure to secure them first so they can’t easily get knocked over. You should also ensure proper ventilation, if you plan to burn candles in a room.

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