This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.*
In some parts of the country, staying warm in the winter can be a matter of life and death. Fortunately, well-heated homes protect people from the elements and modern conveniences such as supermarkets bring fresh food during the coldest part of the year.
But in a catastrophic scenario where people can no longer depend on electricity and supermarkets, surviving a cold winter night will become the number one concern for thousands. In case the SHTF during winter, here are 17 cold weather survival hacks to help you stay safe and comfortable despite frigid temperatures.
1. Put Screws In The Soles Your Shoes
Walking on an icy surface can be tricky without proper footwear. In a situation where you need to travel by foot, drill some small screws into the bottoms of your shoes for excellent traction. Be sure to place the screws near the edges of the soles.
2. Put Wool Inserts In Your Shoes
If you don’t have great winter shoes or you want to beef up the shoes you already have, get some wool inserts, or make your own by cutting them from wool fabric. Wool will keep your feet much warmer than the regular insoles of your shoes, and wool has the added benefit of still holding in heat when wet.
3. Sleep With Hot Water Bottles
Going to bed cold is a sure way to be cold all night. Remember, sleeping bags and blankets only trap the warmth you already have. Boost your starting heat by preparing hot water bottles to fall asleep with. Place them wherever they are needed most and let your sleeping bag or blanket do the rest.
4. Sleep With Man’s Best Friend
Sometimes you need an extra source of heat from man’s best friend. The expression “three dog night” refers to a night so cold that someone would use the body heat of three dogs to make it through the night. Snuggling with your canine just might make all the difference.
5. Insulate Windows with Blankets
If you’re fortunate enough to have a permanent shelter when the SHTF, windows will be a major source of heat loss in the winter, especially if you have single pane windows. Add some insulation to these areas with extra blankets—they’ll trap the heat inside your home and keep the cold at bay.
6. Insulate Windows With Bubble Wrap
If you don’t have any blankets to spare, you can add some insulation with bubble wrap or other kinds of plastic. Duct tape them to your windowsills and it will be like turning single pane windows into double pane windows. The bigger the window, the more important this will be.
7. Open Curtains When The Sun Is Shining On Them
It’s tempting to keep all the curtains drawn if it’s cold outside, but you need to open them if the sun in shining on them. Just think of how a greenhouse works. If you allow sunlight into your home, it will be converted into heat as it’s absorbed by your carpet and furniture, making the whole room warmer.
Just make sure to close the curtains again once the sun is no longer shining directly on the window.
8. Insulate Doors With Pipe Insulation
If your shelter’s door has gaps at the top or bottom, heat will slowly seep out of these cracks. You can help seal up these weak spots in your house by using pipe insulation. Simply cut a slit through half of the pipe insulation and wrap it around the bottom or top of your door to cut down on drafts.
9. Keep Your Socks Dry With Plastic Bags
Having waterproof shoes is important for snowy weather, but in a pinch you can keep your feet dry in any scenario by using plastic bags, either of the zipper variety or of the small trash bag variety. Just be sure to wear a pair of socks under the bags or your feet will get just as wet from sweat as they would have from melting snow.
10. Dress in Layers
Dressing in layers is great advice for anyone in winter weather, but especially for someone in a survival scenario. You need to be able to keep yourself warm while preventing sweating or becoming encumbered, and being able to regulate your temperature is easiest if you simply have layers to add or shed.
11. Wear Tights Under Your Layers
Layering is great, but most people forget you can layer even underneath your thermal underwear by wearing tights to hold in a little more heat. This suggestion is also useful to prevent blisters, as it can add an extra layer of “skin” underneath socks.
12. Prevent Frostbite With Vaseline or Baby Oil
If you’ve bundled up to the fullest extent of your abilities, chances are there is still a little skin exposed on your face. Protect these parts from the cold by slathering them with Vaseline or baby oil.
13. Terra Cotta Pot Heater
Keeping warm with a limited heat source can be tough, but using a terra cotta pot heater is a great way to make a little heat go a long way.
By exploiting the difference in the specific heats of metal and terra cotta, you can warm up a 3-layered terra cotta lamp with something as simple as a candle, kerosene lamp, or rocket stove and have the heat radiate throughout a much larger area than by the heat source alone.
14. Crisco Candle
In a pinch, you can use a jar of Crisco as a candle by simply placing a wick in it. It will burn for a really long time and you’ll have yet another use for Crisco.
15. Reflect Heat With Tin Foil
You might benefit from reflecting heat from a fire, stove, or other heat source by having tin foil reflect the heat off a surface you don’t want to heat. This can even be used in a fireplace to direct heat into the room.
16. Make Bicycle Snow Tires
In a survival scenario, you may not be able to depend on motor vehicles for transportation (or you may have to save gas for emergency situations). In snowy conditions, you can improve the grip of your bike tires by attaching zip ties at regular intervals, giving them much needed traction in winter weather.
17. DIY Hand and Foot Warmers
You can make your own hand and foot warmers in any condition with a little preparation. All you need are some Ziploc bags, some water, and ice melter pellets made from calcium chloride. Calcium chloride pellets are cheap and easy to get, and using them to warm your hands may be a better use than melting snow on your driveway.
Here’s how to make an instant hand warmer.