The Texas snow storms are devastating to say the least, especially considering how many are don’t have help, guidance, or even sources of water to drink. It’s hard to see thousands of people left stranded in their homes with no knowledge on how to stay warm and safe, especially when they don’t know where to start. With big storms, sometimes common sense can actually be the most harmful.
As someone who experienced her fair share of debilitating ice storms and went days without power in frigid temperatures, I think that it’s important to share some life-saving snow storm tips:
Here are some very important tips on how to stay warm and safe during a crippling snow storm:
The top priority is to stay warm, and there are plenty of effective ways to stay warm during a power outage.
Create a warm room in your house.
If you have an overly warm bedroom in your home, that’s the best place to stay. Or if you have a small room that can accommodate everyone in your home (including pets!) comfortably, that works too. Avoid rooms with big windows, cold flooring, open concept design, and high ceilings.
Stay on the top floor of your house.
Heat rises, and cold sinks. So it’s important to stay as high up as possible in order to keep yourself safe.
Insulate your warm room to keep the heat in.
Put towels and spare blankets over windows and under doors, and tape them around the sides of doors if you can. And if you can, push all large pieces of furniture (like couches, beds, and desks) to the outer edges of the walls to act as insulation too.
Shut doors to the rooms you won’t use during the storm.
This includes bathrooms, bedrooms, offices, and basements. Closing the rest of your doors will help insulate the whole house so that when you have to leave your warm room, you won’t feel as cold. Why waste warm air on rooms you won’t use?
If it’s sunny, remove towels and blankets from the windows, but keep the rest of the room dark.
When you allow the sun to enter a dark (but insulated) room, the sun will produce a lot of heat to warm the room. As soon as the sun goes away, cover up the window again to trap in the extra heat. You can also figure out which rooms are darkest to determine which room will be your warm room this way.
What to wear:
Wear loose clothes.
Pantyhose and leggings are godsends for keeping warmth in during snow storms. Layer your tight pants under a pair of looser-fitting pants (like sweats), and you’ll be golden.
Wear the following types of materials:
Wear workout clothing directly over your tight clothing.
Moisture-wicking fabrics and natural fibers are ideal to layer, so wear workout gear over your bottom layer of clothing. They’ll insulate you, but they’ll also absorb sweat. It’s so important not to sweat in freezing temperatures if you don’t have access to heat or a shower.
Wear a hat.
Wearing a hat is extremely important because your body heat goes up to your head. The moment your head feels cold, your body will be too, and it’ll be hard to warm up afterwards. You don’t have to wear a winter hat – even a baseball cap will do the job.
Always wear socks and shoes in the house.
Cold feet will chill your body, especially on hardwood or tile floors. Wearing multiple layers of socks and a pair of shoes will help you stay warm and avoid the painful chill.
How to correctly use body heat to stay warm:
Put your hands under your armpits, between your thighs, or under your bum when sitting.
There’s nothing worse than cold hands, especially if you don’t have spare mittens or socks to wear on them.
Move your body, but don’t break a sweat.
While exercise might be a great way to warm up your body, it can be dangerous. If your body gets wet, that water could freeze and may lead to illness.
Instead, do light workouts, like:
- Arm circles
- Swinging arms from side to side
- High steps
Only drive if you absolutely must:
Driving in snow storms isn’t usually a good idea, especially in areas where people don’t know how to drive in the snow. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to how to drive in snow safely if you do need to hit the road:
- Go much slower than you think that you should – 10-12 mph is typically the right speed during an active storm. And no, you won’t get a ticket for driving too slow.
- Use your low beams even during the day so that others can see you.
- Don’t slam on your brakes – you could easily lose control of your vehicle.
- Don’t turn your wheel sharply.
- Try to drive on the rumbled side of the road if you can identify one in order to gain traction.
- Give drivers plenty of space in front of you – it’s safer when you need to brake because it prevents sliding.
Other helpful tips:
Don’t bring your generator inside.
Generators must run at least 30 feet away from your home. If you use a generator inside your home, shed, or garage, carbon monoxide poisoning could kill you within minutes. If snow is heavy, don’t operate your generator at all, as it can cause electrical shock and damage to the engine.
Don’t sit in your car while it’s running in your garage.
You’ll die from the carbon monoxide fumes that come from the exhaust, especially because those fumes have no scent or colour.
While water might not be easily accessible, it’s important to drink. And if you don’t have water, drink any fluids you do have. Your body uses a lot of energy to stay warm, so you fluids so that you can maintain your energy levels.
Cat litter and sand are your best friends.
While you shouldn’t leave your home during a storm, you may need to let your pets out to pee or go to your garage for supplies. As it turns out, cat litter and sand are great to throw down on the ice for some traction. It may not work as well as salt, but it’ll help you avoid a painful fall on ice.
Monitor elderly and children as much as possible.
Children and the elderly are more prone to hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure that they constantly rub their hands and feet together. Teach them hand-clapping games that keep them moving and help them warm up.
How to care for your pets:
Monitor them at all times.
Your pets might be great at indicating that they’re cold, but in a storm, it’s harder to tell since they’re cold 24/7. Give them lots of cuddles, take note of their food and water intake, and give them lots of love.
Only let dogs outside to pee.
Dogs can get hypothermia on their paws really quickly in freezing temperatures. Rough patches of ice can also cut their paws. So after you let the dogs out, bring them inside immediately.
Make your pets a nest.
Whether you add a blanket nest to their beds or laying towels around the room for them, building a nest for your pets will help them stay warm.
Being trapped in your home with no electricity, heat, or necessities during a snow storm isn’t fun, but hopefully, these tips will make life a little more bearable. Please stay safe and share these tips with anyone you know who’s affected by the snow storms.