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Turn your home into a ‘warming station’ during a winter power outage

Find out how to turn your home into a "warming station" during a winter power outage.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Editor's Note: Video features power outage safety tips from 2021. 

When the power goes out there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do to keep your family warm and safe during the cold winter temperatures.

Here are some power safety tips from ready.gov and some others we found as well to keep warm. 

How to stay warm

These safety tips include a plan of action to stay warm from stopping cold air in its tracks to setting up a command center or warming station inside your home.

What should you do first?

Place towels, blankets, or plastic along the bottom of all your doors and windows to keep cold air from coming into your home.

Close every door in the house to stop cold air from flowing through the house.

Create a warming station

Create a command center or warming station inside your house. You’ll want to stay in one room as much as possible. Body heat will help keep the room warm if you keep the door closed as you use it.

Which room to pick?

Try to pick a room with the fewest walls to the outside and windows like a bedroom or even a living area if it’s not surrounded by windows.

Grab a tent! 

For extra warmth set up a tent inside your command center room to create a warming station for your family. Yes, the same tent you take camping. A blanket fort can work too. That smaller area helps lock in your body heat. Tents are designed to trap body heat. They’re also small so they don’t take long to heat up.

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Camping Tent

Sleeping bags and blankets 

If you have sleeping bags for camping then grab them to sleep in your tent along with other blankets.

Get a stockpile of heavy quilts or any other quilts you can use to keep warm. Wool blankets will be great for locking in heat.

Think layers, lots and lots of layers

You'll want at least three layers including an outer coat, a sweater, and an inner base like an undershirt and long johns. Avoid cotton for this base because it will soak up your sweat and make you colder.

Locate your winter clothes including hats, scarves, mittens and gloves, and of course heavy warm socks and slippers.

If you have a onesie that’s another great way to stay warm as you add on extra layers but make sure it’s not cotton base.

What to do with windows during the day/night

During the day you'll want the blinds up and open to let in as much sunlight as possible. However, at night, you should cover the window with a towel or blanket. Painters tape is the best way to hold up the blanket. If you don't have that, thumbtacks also work and minimize damage to your walls. Even duct tape will work to hold as well but could cause a problem taking it off like with paint on walls.

Stay away from the alcohol!

Avoid alcohol! It might make you flush, but it really lowers your body temperature and impairs your ability to shiver, one of your body's best ways to warm itself up.

Using a generator

There are lots of safety tips to keep in mind when using generators. Make sure to read safety instructions before using a generator.

  • Make sure you NEVER use a generator indoors.
  • Use a generator ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
  • Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage or connect it to your home's electrical system.
  • Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven.

What about food?

One key mistake to avoid if the power goes out in winter is to try to use the winter weather as an informal outdoor refrigerator or freezer.

A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).

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