Sheltering in Place Without Heat

It can happen anyplace and anytime in our harsh Upper Peninsula winters…the heat goes out at home. Here are some tips on staying warm if you choose to shelter in place.

Shrink your shelter: Find one room or two to stay in & to keep warm – shut the rest of the doors. Generally this will be a room towards the center of the house or the main living room. If possible you want one with the least amount of exterior walls or the more sheltered walls. Carpet is a great insulator & will always feel warmer than a hard surface. Grab some mattresses (skip the box springs) & bring them in – not only is this for comfort, but prevents heat from being lost into floor. Use a “door snake” (rolled up towel / long bean bag about 3” around) to stop drafts from coming in under the doors. Cover the windows at night to prevent heat loss

Use alternative heat sources: If you have a working fireplace now would be a good time to use it. Ventless fireplaces or space heaters are also a great backup heat source (though they should not be used without a window at least cracked open or when the power is on). DO NOT use your gas stove, propane grill, or charcoal grill as the carbon monoxide will kill you quicker than cold. Lanterns & Candles are great for giving off light & some heat. Just make sure you use your head & keep them away from flammable items (above / around them) and away from areas where they can get bumped & knocked over.

Sleeping: Got a family – Create your own little igloo or tent with blankets for the sleeping area. If you do have a tent you use for camping set it up and break out the blankets, sleeping bags & pillows. A sleeping bag is best due to its layers surrounding you, but the same can be accomplished with blankets, quilts, comforters. Lay them out flat during the day allowing for any sweat, etc… to dry out. Don’t sleep in your clothes – long johns are fine. One trick I used to do when camping was to grab the next days, roll them up & place them in the sleeping bag so they were warm the next morning

Eating & Drinking: While you may not feel thirsty, the cool dry air is stealing moisture from you so make sure you drink water throughout the day. Our bodies are a great machine, but without fuel it can’t regulate our temperature as well so it is important to also remember to eat. One hot meal a day is a great way to rejuvenate the spirit & help keep you warm so you might try cooking outdoors on the grill or inside on the fireplace.

Water: It stands to reason, if it will get down to below freezing in your home, the pipes will freeze & any water supplies you have will also.
The L’Anse Water Treatment Plant advises Baraga residences that no longer have heat from this morning’s accident to monitor their water to make sure that it does not freeze. When it comes to billing, the office will correct your bills.

Dress for success: Just like one dressing to work outside, dress in layers & try to stay busy. The more you move the warmer you will be. One item though is try not to exert yourself so much that you start sweating. If you will be working that hard, take off a layer or two to help prevent that. Chemical packs & hand warmers also are great ways to help keep you warm, just make sure you read the directions.

Watch for signs of frostbite: These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, move to the warming shelter or get medical help immediately if needed.

Watch for signs of hypothermia: These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911. The chance of developing hypothermia in your home during a weather-related outage is unlikely. Far more likely are the risks associated with asphyxiation from lack of oxygen and carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, understanding and addressing the safety concerns that stem from alternative heating options during a storm is crucial to your family’s survival.

If you have elderly or handicapped neighbors, be sure to check on them and help make arrangements to relocate them to designated warming shelters.