We’re now many days into power outages and no running water. Texans have died in the bitter cold or in unsafe attempts to warm up.
What not to do to stay warm
You can sit in your running car to stay warm, but don’t do that if the car is in the garage – even if the garage door is open. You’ll be exposed to deadly carbon monoxide. Same with generators, charcoal grills, and camp stoves. Keep them outside and away from the house.
Also don’t try to heat your home with a gas oven. And make sure your fireplace is vented before burning anything.
Tips for staying warm
It may seem obvious but put a lot of clothes on. And think synthetic – not cotton – for that layer closest to your body. Keep your neck and head warm, but some experts advise you “treat your feet as your highest priority.” Don’t let them stay damp and wear wool socks if you’ve got them.
Hypothermia can happen indoors. Signs of it are confusion, fumbling speech, and stumbling while walking.
You’ve probably gathered up blankets and pillows. Consider creating a single “warm room” and using towels or sheets to stuff under any cracks in doors.
And though you might need the light through the window to see, keeping blinds closed will be warmer. Putting coverings over the windows will help even more.
Get out from your blanket huddle and get moving every once in a while. Try jumping jacks or squats just to get your blood pumping – especially before bed.
If you’re able to heat up water at all, fill reusable water bottles with hot water and tuck them into blankets near you.
Turns out, cold also sucks battery power so keep those things in your warm pile. And alcohol thins your blood. So you’re better off filling your belly with carbs and sugars if you have the option.
Tips for those without water
Of course, snow melts. But buckets under drips on the roof will get you more water faster than a bathtub full of snow.
About two gallons of water poured directly into the bowl will flush a toilet – just make sure to pour it quickly. And, if you’ve got power, you can try a hairdryer to warm up frozen pipes.
If you need help, reach out
We’ve heard lots of stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Many cities are also still operating “warming centers.” You can find out more by calling 211 or checking local city government websites and social media accounts.
But above all, if you need emergency medical care, don’t hesitate to dial 911 if you can.
A roundup of tips we found:
Advice from New Yorkers for Texans (Albany Times-Union)
Midwesterners Share Advice (Spectrum News)
Advice from a Camping Expert (Dallas Observer)
Safety Tips from the CDC (BBC)
Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (Austin American-Statesman)
Sweden on Restarting Wind Turbines (Daily Mail)
A Plumber on Water and Pipe Tips (San Antonio Express-News)
Advice on Driving in Bad Weather. (Texarkana Gazette)
Some Make-Shift Ways Texans are Dealing with Weather (The Weather Channel)