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How to Keep Warm in a Car 2021

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Cars are great for protecting you from wind and rain, but without the heat running continuously, they won't keep you very warm in cold weather. Whether your heater doesn't work, you're on a car-camping trip, or you need to spend the night in your car during a snowstorm, it'll unfortunately get cold in there before too long. But it's not the time to panic! Keeping warm in a cold car is easy with the right steps.

Steps

Method 1 of 3:Tricks to Heat the Car

1Clear any obstructions from the tailpipe before running the heat. If anything is blocking your tailpipe, carbon monoxide will build up in your car while it's on. This is a particular risk if you're stranded during a snowstorm, since snow can pile up without you realizing it. Always clear away anything blocking your tailpipe before turning the heat on.

It's good to keep a small shovel in your car for situations like this.

2Run the heat for 10 minutes each hour. If you'll be in the car for a few hours, give yourself little blasts of heat hourly to stay warm. Start the car and run the heat for 10 minutes at a time to warm the car back up. Then turn it off to save your gas.

If you're sleeping and you wake up cold, you can run the heat for a few minutes to warm yourself before going back to sleep.

Don't get the car so hot that you start sweating. Sweat will make you colder.

If the heat in your car is broken, there are dashboard heaters that can plug into your car. This is a great option if you aren't stuck, but your heat just doesn't work.

3Insulate your windows to stop heat from escaping. Your car will lose a lot of heat through its windows, so block them off. Any type of covering can work as insulation. In a pinch, solar windshield shades work well. You can also use newspaper, cardboard, plastic bags, or anything else that might be in the car. Line your windows with these items to stop heat from escaping.

If you're planning ahead, foam is a great insulator. Get some foam sheets from a hardware store and cut them to fit your windows. Then just stick them into place when you stop the car.

If you have blankets or towels, it's better to wrap yourself in those than use them for your windows. However, if you're layered enough, you can also use these to insulate your windows.

Stuff cracks in the doors with newspaper as well if you have any extra.

4Crack a window open if the weather is damp. This might sound counterintuitive, but keeping the car sealed in damp weather lets moisture build up in the car. This will make you colder over time. Open one of the windows just a crack to let some of that moisture out.

Method 2 of 3:Tips to Warm Yourself

1Wear as many layers as you can. Layering is key to staying warm in the cold, so put on as many clothes as you can fit on yourself. Wear multiple shirts, pants, socks, pairs of underwear, and jackets to preserve your heat. Also wear a hat and gloves to prevent heat from escaping your body.

Keep your shoes on as well. You'll lose heat through your feet, even if you're wearing several pairs of socks.

Sleep in all your layers if you're car-camping. This might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but you'll stay warm.

If you have other clothes leftover, you can use them to insulate the windows.

2Bring a sleeping bag to stay warm at night. This is your best choice if you're planning on sleeping in your car. Pack a good, thick sleeping bag and bundle up in it as soon as you settle in for the night.

There are specialized, cold-weather sleeping bags built for temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C). These are expensive, but they're a good option to stay warm with.

3Pack an insulated sleeping pad if you can plan ahead. If you're on a car-camping trip, then this is an essential piece of gear. An insulated foam sleeping pad prevents you from losing heat through the bottom of the car. Roll it out and lay on it when you go to sleep to preserve heat.

There are also inflatable sleeping pads that use air as insulation. These might not work as well as foam, but they're much better than nothing.

4Wrap yourself in a blanket if you're staying still. Even if you're wearing layers, some extra covering is always good to stay warm. If you have a blanket in the car, wrap it around yourself to preserve as much heat as you can.

If you don't have a blanket, towels can work too. In an emergency, you can also use the car floor mats.

Space blankets, the reflective silver sheets you've probably seen on TV, are a great emergency item to keep in your car at all times. Break these out if you have them.

5Put a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag. This is a classic cold-weather camping trick. Heat some water over a fire or stove and pour it into a hot water bottle. Then stuff that bottle into your sleeping bag to give off some extra heat.

Always check the bottle to make sure it isn't too hot before putting it in your sleeping bag. You don't want to get burned.

6Avoid breathing into your blankets or sleeping bag. You might want to cover your face to keep it warm, but this is actually a bad idea. Breathing under your covers traps moisture in there, which can make you colder. Resist the urge and keep your face above your covers.

If you need to keep your face warm, try using a ski mask or face covering instead. This way, you won't have to cover your face with a blanket.

7Do light exercises to warm yourself up. Moving produces heat, which helps you and the car stay warm. Keep moving and do some light exercises to bring your body temperature up and fight off the cold. As a bonus, this also makes the time go by faster.

You don't have a lot of room in a car, but you can still do simple exercises. Do some neck rotations, leg squeezes by tensing and releasing the muscles in your legs, and hand pushes by pressing your hands together firmly. If you fold your backseats down, you might even have room for some pushups or sit-ups.

Try to get creative and do any other exercises you can come up with.

Simply tapping your feet burns calories too, which provides a bit of heat.

Don't exercise hard enough to start sweating. This will actually cool your body off.

8Eat to make your body produce heat. Eating and digestion actually warm your body up, so don't resist the urge to snack. If you have food, eat it before it freezes to keep your body heat up.

Healthy fats are especially good for keeping you warm, so pack some nuts or peanut butter if you're planning ahead.

9Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You might not think of this, but dehydration is a real danger because your body needs water to keep itself warm. You also might not realize that you're thirsty when you're cold. Drink plenty of liquids while you're in the car so you don't get dehydrated.

If you can, drink hot beverages like tea or coffee. There are plug-in travel mugs you can use to heat drinks and keep them hot.

If it's cold enough for water to freeze, keep your water bottle wrapped inside your blanket with you. Your body heat will prevent it from freezing.

Never eat snow to hydrate yourself. This will cool your body temperature down and might cause hypothermia.

10Huddle with others if you're not alone. Sharing body heat is a tried and true method for avoiding hypothermia If there are other people in the car with you, huddle close together to keep each other warm.

If you have blankets, wrap yourself up together to share as much heat as possible.

If you're on a camping trip, sleep close together with others to combine your heat at night.

Method 3 of 3:Extra Heat Sources

1Light small candles as a source of emergency heat. Candles don't produce a ton of heat, but they can warm up the car a bit. If you have any in the car, then light them when it starts getting cold. Just make sure you open a window to let oxygen into the car.

Sternos also produce heat, so light these if you have any laying around.

Be very careful with an open flame in the car. Don't knock the candle over or fall asleep while it's lit.

2Stuff hand warmers around your body. Disposable hand warmers are a handy, simple way to produce heat. If you need them to stay warm, take a few out and shake them to activate the heating ingredients. Then stuff them around your clothes to heat your body up.

Hand warmers get very hot, so don't hold them directly against your skin or you could get burned.

These are great items to keep in your car's emergency kit for a situation like this.

3Use propane heaters with caution. Emergency propane heaters produce a lot of heat, and they can really keep the inside of the car toasty. However, the open flame is dangerous, and they also give off carbon monoxide. Always open a window on both sides of the car to vent the fumes, and never fall asleep with the heater on.

You could also make a makeshift heater by dipping cardboard in antifreeze and lighting it. Take the same precautions if you use this trick.