Staying Warm in Winter Emergencies
Your heat pump/furnace keeps you and your family safe from cold weather. No one wants to think about what it would be like without one, but sometimes failures happen. It’s important to be prepared before disaster hits in order to prevent personal harm. If furnace or heat pump failure does happen, preparedness will help you weather it.
Prep for Power Outages
Winter means snow and ice, which often cause power outages and furnace failure. The best way to deal with this is to prepare early. Check batteries in flashlights, emergency radios, and other emergency appliances. Have a short-term backup heat source, such as space heaters for each room, a fireplace, or a gas- or wood-burning stove. Wrap pipes so they won’t freeze, and let your faucets drip slightly. If you use a well water system, fill bathtubs and large containers with water for washing and flushing the toilet. Do not drink this water.
Check Your Furnace
Have a professional check your furnace in late summer or autumn, before bad weather is expected. An expert will alert you to dirty or clogged filters, slow circulation, and other issues. Clean filters regularly in winter, at least once a month or bi-weekly. Ensure your furnace is energy-friendly to avoid continually adjusting the thermostat and running up costs.
Use a Generator
A generator helps you stay warm even during a power outage. Keep your generator in a well-ventilated area outside your home or garage. Don’t connect it directly to your home’s wiring; this causes “back feed” and can be dangerous for utility workers.
Mind the Freezer and Fridge
Your freezer and fridge can actually help you keep warm. Opening and closing the fridge and freezer throughout the day makes your house colder. To keep from feeling constant drafts, set the fridge and freezer to their coldest settings. This gives you incentive to plan what you’ll take out and when, and close the door quickly. Additionally, the cold settings help preserve food during power outages.
As much as possible, rely on non-electric sources to stay warm. Wear sweaters or cardigans inside the house. Cover yourself with blankets or heavy quilts when reading or watching TV, because sitting still makes you feel colder. Wear socks or slippers instead of going barefoot. This will not only keep you warm but will save you energy and money. If you have a real fireplace, run the fire and keep family members warm by the fire.