A Primer: How to Warm Up for a Big Freeze

As ice storm advisories were issued here recently, many of us had one very distressing thought on our minds. What if we lose our power? Sitting in the hermetic world of my cozy apartment in the middle of the onslaught of freezing rain, I worried most about what I was going to do if….. 

I am alone. I am on the top floor of a condo building. If the power shuts off, I will freeze.    

But did I do anything? I just sat there, my mind as clogged as a storm sewer. 

A note was slipped under the door. Get out all your flashlights and batteries just in case, it warned. I promptly rummaged through all the junk in the cabinet beneath my sink looking for flashlights. I found a bag of Power Failure Lites that a friend in California sent me for my 65th birthday. At the time, I thought ugh! At that moment, I was thinking she was prescient. A genius. I took the lights out and plugged 15 into light sockets in my kitchen and dining room to charge them. My apartment looked like a Metro Lighting Store showroom, a chic store in my city. 

And then I sat down to think what next? Suddenly, another bright spot in my black hole of worry. The phone rang. Having gone through this power loss several times in New York City, my youngest sister offered a tool kit of creative ways to prepare for the big freeze. Plan, she urged. Do so while it’s the calm before the storm. Here were her suggestions.    

  • Start a fire in your fireplace, if you have one. There is a gas fireplace in my condo that I didn’t know how to operate. I called downstairs. One of the doormen came up to show me how to turn it on. I plop down on the sofa in the room with the fireplace. Now I’m getting too hot.
  • Turn up your heat and get the apartment really warm in case power cuts off. Pull out as many blankets as you can find.
  • Bathe and wash and dry your clothes while you still have power. If it cuts off, it could be days before it’s restored.
  • Space heater. If you have one, put it in your bedroom, close the door, and turn it way up to heat the room.
  • Food in the refrigerator. If you have an outside space, (I have a porch) put food from the refrigerator out there that you’re afraid will spoil.
  • Charge your e-devices to 100 percent while the power is on. This includes your computer, iPad, iPhone, Kindle or whatever electronics you cannot live without.
  • Buy or keep at least one corded phone. Cordless phones will die when the electricity goes off.
  • Sit in the lobby if you do lose power. It will be warmer and it’s a gathering place for people in the building. And just the body heat from lots of folks will keep the space warmer.
  • Find the fun in living like a pioneer without power. Invite neighbors in for a fire, some wine or a good stiff drink. And chill. It’s a prefect opportunity to entertain, no one will be in a rush to get home, and guests can drink as much as they want and not worry about driving home. 

I worried for naught. Our power is still intact. One day later, I am sitting in my favorite chair, sipping coffee, reading the New York Times, and listening to the weather report. The safest times to go out today will be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. before another round of freezing rain. Moments later, I run to take a shower, wash my hair, and jump in the car to take advantage of the brief reprieve from the wrath of winter.






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