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Here’s what you need to know about staying warm at home:
Blocking wind is the first step to getting warm, as Winter drafts can drop the temperature by up to 100% or more. If you live in a structure, this means making sure your doors and windows are sealed to prevent air leaks. The same applies to vehicle dwellers. Check for air leaks around any door, and seal any window cracks.
Curtains aren’t just for decoration. They actually have a purpose. Hang curtains over every window in your home to block any drafts. A two-curtain setup is best, with a liner to block the draft while allowing sunlight to warm the house, and a blackout-solar curtain to block out the elements and sound.
If you’re in a vehicle, makeshift curtains will have to do. Depending on your situation, you can use towels, floor mats, or even your own clothes, if you have enough layers.
If you’re outdoors, you’ll want to find a place near a structure. The more permanent walls surrounding you, the stronger your barrier against the wind. You’ll then want to build temporary walls out of whatever materials are available. In an urban environment, this means wood/plastic crates, shopping carts, cardboard, etc. In the wilderness, you can build walls from branches, snow, dirt, or whatever’s easily available.
In a home, check the insulation. Insulated walls and windows are pretty standard nowadays, but if you have an older home, you may need to add some insulation. Heat rises, so it’s important to insulate the ceiling especially well. If you have an attic, insulating it, and even filling the space with storage, can help keep the heat from escaping.
In a vehicle, if you have a way to do so, add layers to the ceiling.
If you’re outdoors, padding your walls with any type of paper, cloth, leaves, dirt, etc. goes a long way in helping you stay warm.
During the day, you want as much sun as possible hitting your dwelling. The sun provides plenty of natural warmth to the walls. On the other hand, at night, you should lean things against your walls to add extra barriers between you and the cold.
Only you can prevent forest fires…so why aren’t you out in the forest right now, slacker?
It’s a good idea to have a lot of candles in your home. Not only do they provide light and heat, candles add ambience to your home with a variety of shapes, colors, and aromas.
If you’re living on the streets, in the wilderness, or in a car, a few candles and matches can mean the difference between life and death, so I’d recommend you carry them on you at all times, and store a few everywhere. Matches are free at any gas station, bar, or club, and candles are cheap and easy to either buy or make.
Cooking is a great way to warm up the air in your home, and it provides you with something warm to eat as well. Adding the calories from food, you’re now warming yourself in three ways with one act. If you cook chicken, you’ll be killing a lot of birds with one stone.
If your power is out or you’re in a vehicle, there are portable cooking solutions, such as Sterno cans (basically a can of gel used for camping cookouts or to keep things warm), and camping stoves that are run on kerosene. In some situations, a small kerosene grill will work, but it’s best to avoid charcoal indoors, as it can fill the place with harsh chemicals you don’t want to breathe in.
Body heat is a great way to stay warm. It may seem counter-intuitive, but removing layers of clothing and cuddling up with someone is a great way to stay warm. Even knocking boots will have positive effects on your body heat and the heat in your dwelling. Convincing someone to join you in cuddling or copulation may get difficult if you’re sleeping on the streets, but a little hygiene and a warm smile goes a long way.
When all else fails, beat box…
Pitching a tent while you sleep will keep you warm. Any type of tent will do; all you need to do is put a blanket over your face to trap the air (although not so close as to suffocate you). There’s a reason canopy beds were designed, and it’s not just for decorative purposes. These work well to keep the heat in your bed while you sleep. Take advantage of your own heat source to stay warm at home with nothing but your breath.
While we’re on the subject of breathing, meditation is a great way to keep yourself warm. When you focus on your breath, you become aware of every feeling. You can feel the cold on your skin, but with practice you can train your mind to accept that feeling on your skin as something other than what you were taught. You’re not ignoring the cold–you’re simply reassigning how you accept the feeling in your body. If you think you’re cold, you’ll tense up and start to shiver, but if you actively concentrate on changing your perception of that same feeling you’re experiencing, you’ll begin to relax and gain control over your body.
Although drinking something cold has been scientifically proven to trigger your body’s need to warm up, drinking hot liquids, such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, is an effective placebo. If your taste buds prefer something more savory, soups and stews are a great replacement.
As stated before, moving your body is a great way to produce heat. If you don’t have someone around to bump and grind with, dance by yourself. Do some yoga, run around, stretch, just keep your body moving. There are yoga positions specifically designed to raise your core body temperature. Yoga isn’t necessarily something you can learn by reading, so contact a local yoga studio or teacher who can train you in the proper positioning and breathing techniques to safely warm up with yoga.
Staying warm in Winter isn’t always easy, especially if you find yourself facing extraneous circumstances. If you properly assess your situation, however, you can stay warm at home comfortably and with little effort. Reinforcing and insulating your shelter, lighting candles, cooking, and eating all provide levels of warmth to help you brave the cold winter temperatures. With a little resourcefulness and a positive attitude, you can stay warm at home and prepare to face the wonders of Spring. Stay classy, San Diego.
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