How to Keep Warm during a Disaster

Staying warm during a long-term disaster is essential to your survival in case of a long-term power outage during winter. Failure to stay warm can lead not only to hypothermia and frostbite – it can also cause a person to become sick at the worst time to have even the most mundane illnesses like colds. And heat is one of the most important survival needs. When something goes wrong, and the electricity goes out after a disaster has damaged the infrastructures, you need to have another heating option.

Here are some of the alternate heating solutions to keep you and your family warm during a disaster.


There’s nothing like the tranquil image of logs crackling in a fireplace. If you have a fireplace in your house, you’ve got the traditional way of heating during winter. If you rely on a wood-burning fireplace, make sure to buy an extra grate and a door insulation cordage in advance. The ash pan beneath the wood burner must be emptied daily to avoid fire and too much wear on the grate. If your fireplace is made for cast iron or wrought iron stove, you can also use it to make one-pot dishes.

Where to Buy
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Sengoku HeatMate 10,000-BTU Portable Indoor/Outdoor Omni-Radiant Kerosene Heater, OR-77
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station, 400Wh Battery Powered Generator Alternative with 12V, AC and USB Outputs
MAXTID Bottom Door Draft Stopper 32 to 38 inches Grey Adjustable Insulation Sound Proof Door Draft Blocker for Noise Light Smell Stopper

Propane heaters

A propane heater can be used to warm a room quickly, but it doesn’t broadcast the warmth like a fireplace or a wood-burning stove. But propane is one of the most abundant fuel sources that people can use for heating their homes. The great advantage of getting a propane heater is that you have control over your propane supply. However, proper ventilation is needed when running a propane heater to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. If you plan to use one or multiple propane heaters indoors during a disaster, it’s best to invest in a nominally-priced carbon monoxide units and copious amounts of batteries. You can stock propane to keep the unit pumping out heat.

You can get the most out of your propane heater by using a catalytic heater version that has a ceramic element. The ceramic allows the propane to burn more like hot coals in a fire instead of a flowing flame.

Kerosene heater

Kerosene heaters are a great way of heating the home during power outages, as it uses no electricity nor wood. These portable kerosene heaters  are safe to use indoors with proper ventilation, as well as safety protocols of the manufacturer, is followed. Like with propane heaters, it can only provide warmth as long as your fuel supply holds out. It doesn’t cost you a lot, and it can effectively warm up an apartment.

It’s best to use kerosene heaters in areas where kerosene is readily available. For some areas, kerosene is only available in paint stores, making it too expensive to be practical.

Wood cookstove

The multi-use wood stove doesn’t only keep you warm, but it can be used as a stove or an oven. This is an old-fashioned style of cooking, and if you have one, you can use it for providing home emergency heat. It can even be used to heat bath water during a long-term disaster.

Solar generator

A solar generator  itself won’t do anything to make you warm, but it can provide energy for your electrical heater to work. As long as the sun shines – even during winter – a solar generator can harvest solar energy and convert it into electricity for whatever you need to power. Through a solar generator, you won’t need any fuel or wood.

Ceramic pot heater

Another option is to use ceramic flower pots and make a heater out of it. Put two pots together, with one upside-down on top of the other. Put a candle, an oil-burning lamp, or a candle inside. When it’s lit, it will heat up the ceramic, and the heat will radiate into the room. It’s great to use for a vehicle, an office, or a small room. It’s cheap and portable, but it’s not durable, so it’s only advisable for short emergencies, not for long-time use.

Warming Tips

Here are other tips to remember to keep yourself warm during cold weather while there’s no power:

  • Dress warmly. The first thing you must do is to dress warmly, so you can keep the heat from your body and radiate it into the air around you. The human body is generating heat all the time, so it’s great to make the most out of it. Wear thick clothes, wool sweaters, weatherproof lined gloves, thick socks, and all your other winter gear. But the single most crucial part of the body to keep warm is the head. One-fourth of the body’s blood supply goes to the head, so if you don’t wear a hat, heat radiates out of the head and away from the body.
  • Seal in parts of the house that do not need to be treated. You can use a door draft stopper  to seal in the warmth or use blankets and towels.
  • To save fuel for your alternative heat source, keep the entire family in the same room as you sleep. This way, you only need to use one wood stove or other alternative heaters. It can allow you to monitor the fire all night while keeping everyone warm.
  • Avoid going in and out of the house more than necessary to prevent the room temperature from dropping.
  • Do your outdoor chores at noon or during the heat of the day to prevent yourself from exposing the body to chilly air, and to also prevent cold air from entering the house.