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How to Prepare For a Winter Blackout

January 31, 2022 | Blog

Although winters in Corpus Christi are usually mild, it is always a good idea to prepare for worst-case scenarios. If the weather is cold enough to affect the electrical grid, then it could also be cold enough to make your home’s conditions unlivable. Our team at Matthew’s CCAC wants to help you prepare for any consequences the next cold front may bring by sharing these tips to stay as safe and warm as possible.

Ways to Prepare for a Hard Freeze

Preparing for a hard freeze, and potentially a winter power outage, will make a difference in your home’s warmth and your comfort level while you wait for the storm to pass or to have electricity again. Here are some things you can buy or do before a cold front hits to minimize its impact on you and your home:

* Fumes from anything using propane, kerosene and other heat-generators consume oxygen and release carbon monoxide gas, so ventilation is crucial if being used indoors.

  • Candles or Propane/Kerosene lamps*
  • Propane/Kerosene space heater*
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • Portable generator* and the fuel it runs on
  • Keep generators dry, outside and at least twenty feet away from doors, windows and vents. Never operate them indoors.
  • Portable propane grill*
  • An emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, blanket, first-aid supplies and cash
  • Hand warmers
  • Batteries, for radios, flashlights, etc.
  • Wood, if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove
  • Insulate pipes (or let faucets trickle to prevent freezing)
  • Fill up your car’s gas tank, in case you need it to re-charge your devices or to warm up
  • Know your local warming centers
  • Battery backup starter for a gas fireplace

Four Ways to Keep Warm Without a Heater

If your heater isn’t working due to an electrical blackout, you will have to find alternative ways to heat your home. The following tips can help you stay warm this winter if you don’t have access to electricity.

Fire

It may seem like a no-brainer, but fire is the most efficient way to generate heat without electricity. If your home is equipped with any of these items, fire them up right away! Just be sure you have adequate oxygen access and ventilation for any smoke produced.

  • Fireplace: Without electricity, gas fireplace controls will not work but should still be able to light using a match.
  • Wood-burning stove
  • Propane/Kerosene space heater
    • If you don’t have any, don’t worry! Your local hardware store should carry them.

Layer Up

Adding as many layers of cloth to your body while inside is a great way to stay warm during a winter blackout. Start with small layers – like a t-shirt, tights and thick, long socks – then add onto those as much as possible. On top of your t-shirt, add a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater and a bathrobe, if you have one.

Using beanies, scarves, gloves, jackets, blankets and sleeping bags will also keep you and your family warm inside until you have electricity again.

Insulate

One way to keep as much heat inside your home as possible, and as much cold air out as possible, is to insulate your home in the following areas:

  • Doors: If you don’t have door sweeps or weatherstrips, wedge towels or clothing to seal the gap at the bottom of your door. You can also thumbtack thick blankets over doors or doorways without doors, if you have extras that you aren’t using to keep your body warm.
  • Windows: Ensure all windows are completely closed and locked. Set up storm windows, heavy curtains or thick, clear shower curtains (to let in warm sunlight) if you have them. Otherwise, you can seal windy cracks using towels, clothes, caulk or by taping thick plastic over them.
  • Floors: Hard flooring is especially cold, so lay down carpets, rugs or blankets. If your feet can feel cold when touching the floor, you should lay down anything you can spare to insulate.
  • Unoccupied rooms: Keeping everyone in the same room will raise the temperature some, but closing off unused rooms is key to controlling where the heat accumulates. Seal those rooms using the above directions to create as many insulated barriers between your family and the cold outdoor air.
  • Attic or Crawlspaces: Sealed and insulate these similarly to the rest of the house, assuming you have the necessary time and supplies available

Be Active

Although the idea of laying under as many blankets as possible to wait out the blackout is appealing, moving around is another way to generate body heat and keep warm. The following are some ways to stay active while you wait for power to be restored:

  • Play games that involve movement – like Pictionary and Charades – or will keep your mind busy.
  • Exercising for ten to twenty minutes will warm you up and keep you warm for a while afterward. But don’t overdo it – sweating can contribute to hypothermia.
  • Walking around sounds simple but will produce body heat and improve blood circulation the more you move – your fingers and toes will thank you!

If you suspect your heater has broken down during a hard freeze, contact us right away. Serving Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas since 1979, Matthew’s CCAC is available 24/7 to ensure your home is safe and warm when a cold front hits.

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