Every winter you hear of people dieing from storms that cause power outages and for the most part none of these accidents need to happen if you plan ahead and understand how to properly operate supplemental heating systems.
If you are accustomed to hunting and camping in the winter months then you understand that keeping warm means following basic rules.
First before we get started it is important to know your limits. If you find that conditions are too much for you to handle for any reason you should call your local police or fire station and even in the worst conditions they can normally get help to you within a short amount of time.
Staying Warm means Staying Dry
If you are in a situation where you must go outside and work on shoveling a path to the street for emergency reasons it is important that you dress in layers.
The reason you dress in layers is so you can remove some of your extra shirts, sweaters, sweat jackets or whatever items to limit the amount that you are sweating while working.
Once you begin to sweat the perspiration will wick away the body’s heat in a way that can cause hypothermia.
You may not even realize until it is too late that you are getting way too cold and with the power off in your home it will be difficult to get warm enough to prevent medical care.
Your Car as your Heating Source
If you are able to clear your driveway of snow and remove all snow on and around your vehicle you can sit in your car and get warm for a few minutes every few hours.
Your use of fuel should be limited and because you don’t want to run out of gasoline it is important that you fill your vehicle just prior to any storm that is announced.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very big concern when sitting in a vehicle that is not moving. This is because cars are designed to vent toxic gasses from your exhaust while the car has a natural breeze from moving.
Keeping Warm inside your Home
Staying indoors is your best bet during any winter storm. Unless it is mandatory that you leave your home to clear exit ways of snow you should stay in your home until the storm passes or until the next morning.
If you have a supplemental heating source such as a fireplace, kerosine heater or other device you want to stay within the room with that heating source but you do not want to cut off all air supply and circulation because every heating source needs air to operate and will outgas carbon monoxide or other dangerous gasses.
NEVER LEAVE A HEATING SOURCE RUNNING IF YOU ARE NOT AWAKE!
Turn off kerosine heaters or other sources if you must sleep alone. Use guards on your fireplace and remember that even one coal pop out into the room can cause a fire while you sleep. It is better to have a few extra blankets and if you can have one person stay up later and one wake up earlier to watch the heating source.
Do not sleep or sit on the floor because any heat in the room will flow to the ceiling and direct contact with the floor will suck heat out of your body overnight.
An Air Bed or even dragging a twin mattress into the living room would be better then sleeping bags on the floor.
Always keep blinds open if the sun is shining through and closed on the opposite side of the home to reduce heat transfer.
If you have drafts on windows a simple way to deal with this is temporarily is masking tape. However do not seal yourself in a big plastic bag of a home by removing all air flow. If you have supplemental heat running you need extra air so you can breath well.
Plumbing concerns in a Winter Power Outage
It is important that rooms with plumbing stay over 40F at all times or you will need to shutoff water supplies and drain or open lines in those areas. Basements that are not heated will normally stay just warm enough to keep waterlines from bursting but garages or outlying bathrooms may not so monitor the condition. Some people also suggest that you allow a small amount of water to flow through sinks or tubs but if the temp falls below 30f this could also fill your waste lines with ice and cause valves to stick open.