I spent eight years living in Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula, plus another five living in Iron Mountain.  Anywhere in Michigan can be darned cold during the winter, but living in the U.P. can take cold to new depths. 


When the power went out during the winter, it could easily be 20 degrees below zero, and frozen pipes and cars were just a way of life.  Sliding off the road could be life threatening, but people were friendlier there and would gladly pull over and give you a lift to the nearest store or gas station with a phone so you could call for help.  It wasn’t unusual for a day or two to pass before your car would thaw out, but once it did, you quickly got back into the swing of things again.


The worst part of those winters was when the pipes into the house froze.  I well remember sitting on the floor with a hair drying blowing hot air on the in-coming pipes to thaw them out.  And, the days the local Fire Department came by and told us to leave out taps dripping so they didn’t freeze and break.  The Water Department would reduce the amount of your bill to compensate since it saved them money not having to pay a crew to dig up the streets and replace broken water pipes in the middle of winter.


All of this is to say that I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to keep my family warm during severe winter storms.  I don’t want my pipes freezing or my car not working if I can do something about it before-hand to prevent it.  I learned some wise things to do in the event of a storm when I lived in the U.P.


I keep an alternate form of heating the house on hand.  I was fortunate enough to have a fireplace in my current home.  It runs off propane, so when the electricity goes off, it can still be used to provide some heat.  The fan won’t work, but it can heat the Family Room fairly easily.  I also have a radiant heater.  That recently came in handy when the switch on the furnace burned out.  I was able to keep the house warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing until the furnace guy arrived.


There are many different kinds of gas, propane, and kerosene heaters you can keep on hand for an emergency.  Take care though that you keep the house well vented so you don’t get a build-up of carbon monoxide.  Keep lots of blankets on hand too so you can burrow in if necessary.

A little advance planning will keep you warm and may save you a lot of money this winter.  For more tips on staying warm during winter storms, go to



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