Imagine spending the coldest days of winter without any heating in your home. It doesn’t sound like fun, but it happens to many people each year with central heating breakdowns and power outages. Here are our tips for how to keep warm and survive cold weather without heating.
Firstly, and hopefully fairly obviously, wear warm clothing. With no heating in the house, you need to retain your own body heat as much as possible. Wear layers of clothing, including hat, gloves and thick socks. If you have thermal underwear, this would be a great time to use it.
Create A Small Space To Keep Warm
It’s much easier to retain heat in a small space than a big one. Instead of using the whole house, just use one room because it will be much easier to keep warm. Ideally, the room you use should:
- Be small, because small spaces are easier to keep warm than big spaces
- Have as few external walls and windows as possible, because heat will be lost to the outside through walls and windows
- Be upstairs, because heat rises, and because upstairs rooms often have a better insulated ceiling than downstairs rooms
- Be near the bathroom, so that you have easy access to the toilet and to a water supply.
Retain Heat In Your Room
There are various ways that heat can be lost from a room, so reducing these as much as possible will help you to retain heat.
Seal any gaps in window frames that drafts can get through with tape. Use draft excluders at the bottom of doors to stop drafts coming through the small gap under the door.
A lot of heat is lost through glass. Even double glazed windows still allow a lot of heat to escape from a room. Keep curtains closed to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. If your curtains are thin, hang blankets over the window too.
Uninsulated, hard flooring such as stone, tile or lino can also drain heat. Carpet works as an insulation layer, retaining heat better. Cover hard floors with rugs to add an extra layer of insulation and retain heat in the room.
Don’t Forget To Eat
Warm food helps you to keep warm, but if the power is out you may not be able to cook. Self-heating meal kits include a flameless heater, which warms the meal for you without having to use any power supply. They store well, and are a really useful item to keep in your house.
Have A Warm Place To Sleep
A tent and a good sleeping bag can keep you warm camping outside when it’s cold, so do the same inside. A tent is simply a small space, and as we’ve already covered, it’s easier to retain heat in a small space than a big one. Set up a tent inside the room that you’re staying in, and get in your best sleeping bag or under several layers of bedding.
Share Body Heat
Sharing body heat by snuggling up to another person is a very effective way for you both to keep warm. This doesn’t work if you’re wearing layers of clothing that will insulate you from each other though! It might seem counter-intuitive, but to share body heat you need less clothing but more insulation around the two of you. Sleeping next to each other with layers of bedding, or in a double sleeping bag, is a great way to keep warm.
Do Not Do This To Keep Warm
Lastly, and very importantly, let’s look at what not to do to keep warm. It’s very tempting to resort to alternative heat sources that don’t rely on mains power, such as a gas cooker, oven or camping stove. Using any equipment that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide, which is a colourless, odourless and deadly gas. Do not use anything that burns fuel in a way that it is not intended to be used. In particular, do not use any equipment that is designed to be used outdoors in to the home.
Carbon monoxide kills quickly, and without you realising that it’s there. You can’t smell it or see it, and you probably won’t realise you’re breathing it until it’s too late.
Can I Use My Gas Cooker To Heat The House?
A gas cooker might seem safe because you use it regularly for cooking, however for heating your home it can be very dangerous. In normal use, gas cookers and ovens are generally used for relatively short periods of time. The room in which they are fitted will also have ventilation, often including an extractor fan. When in normal use, the gas cooker will produce a small amount of carbon dioxide. This is not a problem in small amounts.
When you are trying to heat the house, you may have reduced the ventilation, and it will require a significant period of time to heat a room using a gas cooker. This will allow the cooker to use up some of the oxygen in the room, which is not being replaced due to the reduced ventilation. With the lack of oxygen, the burning of gas will start to produce carbon monoxide, which can very quickly build up to dangerous levels.