Prepping for a winter power outage (do’s and don’ts)

Enduring a power outage in the summertime has its share of challenges however enduring a power outage in sub-zero temperatures could prove fatal in a much shorter period of time for the unprepared.

The goal of this post is to help you to prepare for a better winter power outage especially if you live in a colder climate where the temperature goes well below freezing in the winter time.

If you are serious about preparing for a winter power outage then a generator is a must-have. My recommendation is to get a 4000 Watt generator as it will power most of your electronics Click here to check price on

If you had ever at least a one-day power outage you probably noticed that it was a rude awakening for a lot of unprepared people and probably many of you asked themselves what would have happened if the power outage would have lasted longer than one day. Imagine a scenario where this would have lasted several days if not several weeks, there are a lot of things that could go wrong and being prepared for it is essential even if the chances of it happening are very slim.

It is better to be scared than frightened all of a sudden 

Especially if you live in Canada where wintertime is 6 months out of the year your priority should be as a prepper on how to survive during the winter time. Below you will find some critical guidelines that you should follow when preparing for a short-term winter power outage. The only way to survive a long-term power outage without conventional fuel sources you will need at least wood stow or some other archaic method of heating your home.

As a prepper, you should always have an ample supply of foods with long shelf life and you need to be mindful whether or not you are storing items that have water in it. Especially canned foods as you need to make sure that you store them in a place where they do not freeze like in a basement or crawlspace, bottom line you need to make sure that where ever you store them the temperature is fairly constant and above freezing temperatures.

The same goes for water, personally, I would recommend freeze-dried or dehydrated foods so this way you just need water to rehydrate it. Take your pick if you are going to store food items which contain water or dehydrated foods which need water for them just make sure they are stored correctly and in a stable temperature which is above freezing.

If you are forced to bug out and leave your home assuming that you have all the necessary items and tools in your bug out bag  don’t forget your

  • Emergency lighting
  • Emergency radio that has a NOAA or weather band function and it would also be beneficial if it would have shortwave capabilities altho this is not necessary for a short-term winter power outage but you never know how long it will last.

If you are lucky enough that you can bug out with your vehicle make sure you have

  • Road flares but not the LED ones that are powered by batteries because the batteries are going to run bone dry if they are left outside in your car for a long period time so get the classic incendiary road flares.
  • Shovel just in case you need to dig out
  • Emergency jump starters should be the lithium powered jump starters just make sure the batteries are not dead especially if you have left them in your car for a long period of time, this is one of those items that you need to take with you every time when you leave the house.
  • Wool blankets this are going to keep you warm.

Clothes to wear even if you are bugging out on foot

  • Hand warmers if you can get them, go for the longer lasting ones which can be refilled and not the throwaway ones as the longer lasting ones generate more heat and last for about 12 hours. 
  • Balaclava this will protect your face from the elements combine this with a good wool scarf and make sure that no skin is exposed to the elements.
  • Jacket with natural fibers as these insolate way better than the synthetic fibers
  • Boots with a high top and make sure the boots are at least one size bigger as you will be wearing several socks

Verry important to have your boots at least one size bigger, you will be wearing several socks and the last thing you want is to cut off or limit the circulation in your feet and this will happen if your boots are too tight of a fit. If you limit the circulation to your feet it doesnt matter what kind of boot or how many warm socks you have as they are going to freeze and you woun’t even notice because of the limited circulation.

  • Snowmobile mitts 
  • Tracktion device that you can put on your boots like snowshoes to spend less energy while walking

How to heat your home 

In my personal opinion propane is one of the most versatile fuel sources as you can cook with it, you can heat your home and some generators will actually allow you to convert the propane into electricity. Propane also stores for a very long time and many propane heaters are rated to be safe indoors.

Heating with propane is a little bit more dangerous but most systems nowadays are full proof but even if the heater that you are using is rated for indoor usage get yourself a battery powered carbon monoxide detector just in case as the last thing you want is to go into a deep sleep because of the odorless gas the carbon monoxide which is going to be created by some propane heaters.

Don’t forget to have some sort of ventilation also where the propane heater is located just to be safer. If you have a chimney or fireplace make sure that is maintained and cleaned regularly and that you have enough amount of firewood to use it. You may have a bunch of green wood around your house but that is going to be incredibly difficult to start a fire with so make sure to prepare ahead of time so the wood has a chance to dry.

If your house is poorly insulated but you do have a basement you could heat the basement up as this has a more constant temperature and has above ground level temperature even in winter time. You will not be able to heat up all the rooms with a propane heater so you will need to pick a room or the basement. You will need to ration your propane supplies as you don’t know how long the power outage is going to last this means that your entire family will be in one room to keep warm.

You do not want to have an open fire in your home as that is just asking for disaster as you either burn down your house or you are going to asphyxiate due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

In regards to food, the great thing about wintertime is that you can just put your food outside and it won’t spoil. If you are still heating your home but there is no power and you want to maximize the use of your fridge, keep your fridge door close for as long as possible. Because without power every time you open your fridge door the cool air from the inside of the fridge will not be replaced, so make sure you limit the number of times you open it. Even without power, the fridge will keep its inside temperature for a couple of days if you don’t open it.

One of the major issues when having no power during the winter time is to have your water not freeze. Make sure the room you are heating that it has your water supply also. Most people don’t even consider water for prepping during the winter as snow is fairly abundant but you will be wasting precious resources into melting the water.

Prepping for a winter power outage


Setting up your home for limited heating during the winter time

In extreme cold conditions water can freeze very quickly and as you are not heating all the rooms there will be some problems to consider

  1. Toilet, the water in your toilet will probably freeze, my suggestion is to put salt or antifreeze in it just make sure you don’t flush it.
  2. Turn off your water main
  3. Drain your water heater 
  4. Pipes, make sure you keep them in a slow drip as running water freezes slower, it will freeze eventually but not that fast as stagnant water.

In case there is flooding where there is a burst of one of the pipes make sure that anything you have in your basement that it is on an elevated position and not on the floor. This scenario could potentially happen especially if you have to evacuate your home.

Get a good number of highly reflective emergency blankets with you as these can reflect body heat, in addition to wrapping yourself up in these you can also cover the walls of the room which you are heating this way a lot of the heat is going to be reflected back in the room and prevent it from escaping. Buy a couple of rolls of this and you will use them in only emergency situations.

Don’t try to cover your entire house with it as your wife is going to probably kill you if you get too proactive with this idea, but for the reason to insolate a room, it is a good item to have.

Make sure you have candles, but be very careful with these as they are an open source of flame thus making them a fire hazard. No matter how cold it gets outside your house is going to burn the same so be careful while using the candles.

Block any drafts which are coming below your doors and windows. A good investment which you should do is to properly insulate your house beforehand this will pay for itself as you will use less energy to heat the entire home.

Generate electricity with a gas powered generator or a solar generator, if you need high wattage you can go with the propane or high wattage gas generators. Solar power is a much better long term solution but they do cost a pretty penny. The solar panels are going to function just as well in the winter time as long as you keep them clean. At the end of the day having both the solar and gas-powered generators is a good idea if you can afford it.

Make sure that your vehicle as at least 3/4 of gasoline at all times because if you are forced out of your home for some reason you will use your vehicle to bug out as long as the vehicle has fuel. If you do evacuate your home make sure you know exactly where you are going and if there is going to be any help when you get there. If the power outage is bigger in scale you might drive for hours and still not find a place with electricity.

Cooking outside is an ideal way to cook, minimizing the carbon monoxide poisoning or burning your house down. In a long-term winter power outage where food is starting to be scarce you don’t want to cook outside as we all know that hungry people would do anything for their and their family’s survival, so simply don’t advertise that you have food. In a long-term situation, my advice is “play dead” nobody should even know that somebody is still living in your house.

Will I have natural gas during the power outage?

The natural gas may or may not work for you during this time and it will depend on a variety of factors including how far you are from the gas head that is the pipeline transmission system and the compression stations along the way which are going to regulate the flow of the natural gas and boosting or relieving the pressure on the way to make sure that it gets to you the end use. This process of compression and pumping gas requires electricity, particularly in an urban area where there is a complex patchwork of natural gas pipelines. Companies typically use electricity to regulate the flow of gas, in other places that might not be the case as these will be powered by the natural gas itself. 

If you are lucky enough to live along a pipeline which is powered by natural gas then you may still have access to it, you could still cook and heat your house. But for the majority of people in urban environments, this will not be an option.

Depending on where you live the gas may last for a few days but that is not a guarantee so always have a way to stay warm, cook your food and if possible to power some of your electronics.

I hope you found the information above useful, you can also find a variety of topics on prepping on my site from beginners guides to more advanced tips and tricks. 

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