Over the past few years, we've been thrown a few curveballs, and unusual weather is one of them. Places like Texas and New York have been hit by record-breaking storms. The result? In some cases, widespread power outages. If you end up losing power during the winter, you may wonder about hopping in your car to warm up. But is it a good idea? Here's what you need to know.
Should You Warm Up in Your Car During a Power Outage?
If you find yourself losing power when it's cold, the situation can quickly become worrisome as you try to keep yourself and your household warm. When Texas faced record low temperatures in February of 2021, snow and ice made roads impossible to drive on, and the state suffered widespread power loss.
Many were caught off-guard without generators or any other type of heat source and resorted to getting warm in their cars. If you find yourself in a situation where your car is your only source of heat, you can use it to warm up. That said, it's important to be aware of the potential dangers.
How to Warm Up in Your Car Safely
The major thing you should keep in mind when using your car to warm up is that you need to do so in a well-ventilated area. Your vehicle's exhaust contains carbon monoxide — a poisonous gas without a smell or taste. So if you start your car inside your closed garage, the carbon monoxide will build up and can quickly cause you to lose consciousness and suffocate. Exhaust fumes have also been shown to lead to asthma, allergies, cancer, and more.
You definitely want to minimize any ill effects, so if you are going to warm up in your car, be sure you're in the driveway, driving, or at least have the garage door open.
Other Tips on Staying Warm During a Power Outage
How else can you stay warm during a power outage aside from getting into your car? Here are a few tips:
Be prepared: One of the most important steps is being prepared. You can ensure you'll have a heat source by purchasing a backup generator or a fireplace/wood stove and fuel for them. It's also a good idea to stock up on some chemical hand and foot warmers, warm clothing, and flashlights. Further, ensure your home is well-sealed and insulated so it can keep heat in when it matters most.
Warm-up before: If a storm is coming and you know a power outage is possible, it can help to warm up your house beforehand so it stays warmer longer.
Prevent heat loss: Once the power is out, do what you can to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out. That means limiting the use of doors that lead outside and stuffing towels in any spaces with drafts.
Choose one hang-out room: While the power is out, you can help to stay warmer by staying in a small, interior room with everyone in the household. You can further the effect (and have some fun) by pitching a tent in the room, having everyone get in it, and filling it with pillows and blankets.
Eat and drink: It takes your body a bit more effort to stay warm when it's cold, so ensure you are eating and drinking enough. If you can make a warm drink like hot cocoa or tea, that can help, too.
Losing power can be inconvenient and frustrating, but also dangerous when the temperatures drop. However, a bit of preparation and these other tips can help you to stay safe.
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