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Northerners share tips with Texans on how to stay safe and warm during the winter power outage

Northerners are taking to social media to offer tips on how to handle extreme cold during power outages as pleas for help are coming from countless homes in Texas where the power remains off after a huge winter storm — and there are no clear answers from those in charge about when it will be back on.

Winter power outages can be dangerous for those unprepared for intense cold. To help minimize risk, Twitter users are sharing basic safety tips with Southerners not accustomed to these temperatures.


Stay warm

If you have no heat source during a power outage, block any openings around doors and windows, author Mikki Kendall said in a Twitter post. "Gather in one room if you can and settle into your blankets, pillows, everything cozy that you have. If you don't have carpet use towels or a blanket under you and over you."

A user from New England explained why locking the windows as opposed to just closing them can help with staying warm: "Window locks press the window into the frame, and make sure no cold air gets through the gaps."

He also recommended "snuggling up": "3 kids or 2 adults per blanket. Pets count as kids. Body heat is crazy efficient. Go head-to-toe if you're not on snuggling terms with your blanket buddy." 

The same user said to use a towel to "plug up the gap under the door to the basement. That way the coldest air in the house stays where it belongs."

"Walk around every so often. You don't have to do a lot of exercises but walking around for a few minutes every so often will help keep your circulation flowing well and will keep you warm. You need your circulation flowing," said one user "from the North." The user also included warming center locations in Austin, Texas, in the thread. 

Stay safe

The Centers for Disease Control said to keep generators dry and at least 20 feet away from any window, door or vent as they can release poisonous carbon monoxide if you use them inside your home. They also advise not to use generators, camp stoves, charcoal grills, gas grills or similar appliances inside the house: The fumes can be deadly.

So far, there have been more than 300 carbon monoxide poisoning cases in Harris County alone, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Additionally, Ready.gov, the U.S. government's online disaster planning resource, says stoves or ovens should not be used to heat up homes.

"DO NOT: bring a generator inside. ever. EVER. and don't run it in your garage, either. generators have to run 30 ft away from your home; most northerners know this, but we can't expect southerners to," wrote one user who says they have lived "thorough many, many power outages in negative temps." 

"Addendum: DO NOT USE YOUR CAR, YOUR GAS STOVE, YOUR GRILL, OR ANY OTHER GAS-POWERED DEVICE TO HEAT YOUR HOME. It WILL kill you," a New Englander added.

Keep water pipes intact

To prevent water pipes from freezing or breaking in low temperatures, the CDC recommends turning all water faucets on just enough to allow a continuous drip and keeping cabinet doors under sinks open to allow any warm air from the room to reach the pipes.

Stay fed and hydrated

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends not opening your fridge or freezer during the power outage to keep your food cold. Instead, use food that doesn't require refrigeration or use coolers with ice. Food in fridges can stay good for about four hours without power and a freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours. But don't drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, the CDC warns — they cause your body to lose heat faster.

"Food wise, you have to eat even if it's just snacks. Hydration matters too. If you can't make warm food or drinks? Go for the easiest things you have on hand & don't worry about it being healthy. The calories matter, not the content," Mikki Kendall wrote on her Twitter thread.

Stay home

You will be safer indoors during a winter power outage, according to the CDC. In the event that you have to go outside, the Houston Office of Emergency Management recommends wearing at least at least three layers of tops, an outer layer, two layers of bottoms and waterproof boots. Constant shivering is an important first sign that your body is losing heat and it is time to go inside.

"If you HAVE to drive anywhere, keep an emergency kit in your car. Blanket, flashlight, extra coat, some food, and if you have it, cat litter. It works like salt and breaks down the ice/snow if you get stuck.," Kilee DeBrabander of Michigan tweeted.

"Winter storm tips from a Canadian living in Texas pt 1: just because the snow looks fluffy and harmless on pathways or the road doesn't mean it's safe- there is very likely a layer of slippery AF ice underneath it. Move cautiously!" actress Barbara Dunkelman wrote.

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