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Handling Cold Temperatures

Jim Cobb – The Survival Weekly Dispatch

Like it or not, winter is coming. There are many reasons why you might need to figure out a way to stay warm, even in your own home. Let’s say you live in a climate where the temperatures dip to freezing or below in the winter and your furnace goes out. Or you live in an area where it doesn’t typically get that cold, but then it does and the power goes out due to the sudden high demand in the community.

Modern fireplaces don’t generate that much heat for the home, most of it goes right up the chimney. And let’s face it, there aren’t that many apartments or condos equipped with wood-burning fireplaces or wood stoves anyway. So, how can you keep you and your family from freezing all night long?

If you’re unable or unwilling to seek shelter elsewhere, such as a local motel, here are just a few strategies to consider.

Create a Mini Shelter

One of the easiest things you can do is create a confined area within the home where everyone gathers. The smaller the room, the better, but you probably don’t want to do this in a bathroom, just for the sake of comfort. Choose the smallest bedroom instead. Hang blankets over the door and windows to reduce drafts. Depending on the size of the room and the number of family members, body heat alone should warm the room a fair bit.

Get everyone under blankets and cuddled up with one another. Bonus points if you have dogs or cats that are willing to share their body heat as well.

You can go a step further and set up a small tent in the room and herd everyone in there. Make a game of it with young children and pretend you’re camping. Again, you’re relying on body heat to warm up the space inside the tent. You can drape a blanket over the tent to help keep more heat in.

Along those same lines, if you don’t have a tent try making an old-fashioned blanket fort like you did as a child. It might not be perfect, but anything you can do to trap body heat will help.

Indoor Kerosene Heater

These work very well, with a couple of caveats. For starters, you’ll need to buy one and fuel for it ahead of the crisis. Odds are that if you wait until the emergency happens, you’ll either not be able to get out to a store or, if you do manage to make your way there, you’ll find they’re sold out.

Make absolutely certain that the heater you purchase is designed for use indoors. The fumes will be minimal and there’s less risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Even so, you’re best off setting it up near a window you can crack open. Not only will this help ventilate the room, it will reduce the odor of the kerosene.


As anyone who has done the romantic, “fill the room with lit candles” routine knows, there’s a good amount of heat given off by them. However, that warmth comes at a price—danger. Open flames can certainly warm the room. They can also set the room on fire and give you a whole new set of problems to solve.

If you’re going to resort to using candles for heat, go about it intelligently. Use heat-resistant surfaces for them to sit on and limit it to just one or two candles in a given area, closely monitored by someone responsible.

Keeping warm during a power outage or other event can be critical during the winter. Figure out solutions ahead of time, just in case. And always keep safety top of mind. You want to lessen the stress, not create a worse crisis for yourself and your family.

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