Dealing with Power Outage in Freezing Weather

Friends in Texas have been having another hard winter ice/snow storm, with many people experiencing extended power outages again this year. This time, unlike in 2021, a lot of the outages are from ice-laden tree branches falling on power lines.

A friend in Austin reports her power has been out for 26 hours. She and her husband are doing OK (though a bit bored), bundled up in jackets and the indoor temp is 53. (Update: These friends have now been without power 60 hours. Good news is the indoor temp is holding steady at 53. They have been able to recharge their phones by going to nearby coffee shops.)

In my experience with power outages in subfreezing weather, I too have found that low 50s indoors is definitely do-able with dressing in layers, having plenty of quilts and blankets, down sleeping-bag, etc. Finding some vigorous task or going for a walk can help too but might not be an option if every square inch of the outdoors is coated with slippery ice, threat of falling tree branches etc. (Another Austin friend had a tree branch crash through her livingroom window and another fall on her car.)

If subfreezing weather continues longer and the temps inside get colder, occupants of houses can close off all rooms and occupy one smaller room which can be warmed by just their body heat and maybe some candles. (Extra warmth if pet dogs and cats are among the household members!)

Setting up a tent inside a room is good too — but I would be super cautious about using candles inside a tent. I’ve seen tents go up in flames almost instantly when someone tried to use a candle-lantern inside the tent.

Long term, if harsh winter spells become a more routine thing, I can imagine some people might want to look into getting woodstoves for cooking and heating. I’d definitely invest in a woodstove as opposed to, say, getting a gasoline-powered generator that would be used to supply electricity.

Long underwear is also a good investment.

Also! Power lines should all be buried. I hate that the existence of electric-power lines forces trimming of trees that would otherwise be left in peace to provide shade and beauty. And I hate that people’s electric power is in constant jeopardy from weather, needlessly! Bury those lines I say! To objections based on the cost of transition, I totally agree with everyone who points out that the constant outages from ice storms and all have got to be really expensive!