Keeping Warm in an Apartment

For most people, the idea of being in an apartment without power during a snowstorm sounds scary.  Apartment dwellers generally don’t have luxury of things like a fireplace or a generator.  I choose to look at an apartment as being a great location to be.  Why, you may ask?  Because there is less space to try to heat up.  It is possible that an extra powerful storm or other incident could keep you without electricity to heat your apartment for days and even weeks – such an event will make you miserable, but at worst, could also be fatal.

For apartment-dwellers and homeowners alike, having lots of extra warm clothing and blankets is necessary in emergency preparedness. For those living in an apartment, it may be the only option to keep yourself warm if you are without power. Have warm socks, gloves, hats, and heavy coats, even if you don’t normally wear them. Layer your clothing to insulate heat. Wearing a pair of women’s tights under your pants is a trick used by Special Air Service soldiers to stay warm during attic conditions. Keep clothing dry and clean. Snuggle up in warm blankets and sleeping bags.  To save space, blankets and extra clothing can be stored in vacuum-sealed bags, under beds, or in suitcases.

Insulating your windows is a good way to keep the heat in. Cover windows with sheets of plastic or pieces of cardboard. You can also hang a blanket or sleeping bag over them. If your apartment is on the larger side, you have the option of “blocking off” a few rooms. Keeping those doors closed and not using the rooms temporarily will create less space that needs to be heated, and will keep warm bodies in the same area. If necessary, block cracks under doors with towels or blankets, and tape other openings, so heat doesn’t escape.

Do not use your oven as a heat source. Using your oven can be a safety hazard, both in terms of fire and toxic gases. Instead, you can buy a portable heater that doesn’t product carbon-monoxide. You can also make a DIY heater with an empty paint can, a toilet paper roll, 70% isopropyl alcohol, and matches (instructions are here:  Whenever burning indoors, make sure you prepare by placing the heater on a non-flammable surface, like your stove top, and have a fire extinguisher close by.   Also, be aware that most heaters, even those that don’t produce toxic gasses, still require an open window for ventilation.

Take special care of the elderly and of young children, as they are especially susceptible to temperature drops. They should be kept in the warmest spot in the apartment, and should share a bed with a buddy. All family members should get more sleep than they would on a normal day, as it will prevent exhaustion. Move and be active enough to warm yourself, but not enough to break a sweat. Warm food and drinks can be a great way to keep your heat and spirits up, but avoid alcohol. Although alcohol can make you feel temporarily warmer, it is actually lowering the temperature of your core. Learn how to treat ailments caused by frigid weather, such as hypothermia and frostbite.

Submitted by Ally G., a Food Insurance® Guest Author

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