How to Keep Warm in a Car

How to Keep Warm in a Car

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 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 your car is easy with the right steps. You might be a little uncomfortable, but you’ll definitely avoid hypothermia or other negative effects from the cold.

Method 1 of 3:
Warming Up the Car

1
Preheat your car as much as you can. If you’re going to be spending time in your car, then heat it up as much as you can from the start. Turn the heat on and get the car good and warm. When you’re feeling a little hot, turn the car off to save gas. [1] X Research source Don’t run the heat continuously. You’ll run out of gas quickly and be stuck. Stop the heat once you start sweating, because sweat will make you colder once the car cools down. Always check to make sure your tailpipe isn’t clogged when you run the heat to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. This is especially important in a snowstorm. 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.[2] X Research source
2
Run 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 again to save your gas. [3] X Research source Always check your tailpipe before turning your heat on so carbon monoxide doesn’t build up in your car. This is especially important in a snowstorm, since snow can pile up and block your exhaust pipe. If there is anything blocking the pipe, clear it away before running the car. 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.[4] X Research source
3
Insulate your windows with anything you have. Your car will lose a lot of heat through its windows, so blocking them off is important. Any type of covering can work as insulation. Solar windshield shades work well. [5] X Research source You can also use newspaper, cardboard, plastic bags, or anything else you can use to cover the windows. Line your windows with these items to hold heat in 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.[6] X Research source 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.[7] X Research source
4
Crack 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. [8] X Research source
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Method 2 of 3:
Preserving Your Heat

1
Wear 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. [9] X Research source Keep your shoes on as well. You’ll lose heat through your feet, even if you’re wearing several pairs of socks. If you have other clothes leftover, you can use them to insulate the windows.
2
Use a sleeping bag if you have one. If you’re planning on sleeping in your car, then a sleeping bag is the best choice. Pack a good, thick sleeping bag and bundle up in it as soon as you settle in for the night. [10] X Research source Try to avoid breathing into your sleeping bag. This builds moisture around your body and could make you colder. 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. Also use an inflatable sleeping pad if you have one. This prevents you from losing heat through the bottom of the car.
3
Move around to keep your body temperature 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. [11] X Research source You don’t have a lot of room in a car, but you can still do simple exercises. Do some sit-ups, neck rotations, pushups, leg squeezes, and hand pushes to heat yourself up. 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.
4
Wrap 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. [12] X Research source If you don’t have a blanket, towels can work too. 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.
5
Eat 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. [13] X Research source Healthy fats are especially good for keeping you warm, so pack some nuts or peanut butter if you’re planning ahead.[14] X Research source
6
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You might not think of this, but dehydration is a real danger in the cold. Your body needs water to keep itself warm, and you might not realize it if you’re thirsty. Drink plenty of liquids while you’re in the car so you don’t get dehydrated. [15] X Research source 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.[16] X Research source 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.[17] X Research source
7
Huddle 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. [18] X Research source If you have blankets, wrap yourself up together to share as much heat as possible.
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Method 3 of 3:
Extra Heat Sources

1
Light 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. [19] X Research source Sternos also produce heat, so you can 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 with it lit.
2
Stuff hand warmers around your body. Disposable hand warmers are a handy, simple way to produce heat. [20] X Research source 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.
3
Use propane heaters with caution. Emergency propane heaters produce a lot of heat, and they can really keep the inside of the car warm. 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. [21] X Research source You could also make a makeshift heater by dipping cardboard in antifreeze and lighting it. Take the same precautions if you use this trick.
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Method 1 of 3:
Warming Up the Car

1
Preheat your car as much as you can. If you’re going to be spending time in your car, then heat it up as much as you can from the start. Turn the heat on and get the car good and warm. When you’re feeling a little hot, turn the car off to save gas. [1] X Research source Don’t run the heat continuously. You’ll run out of gas quickly and be stuck. Stop the heat once you start sweating, because sweat will make you colder once the car cools down. Always check to make sure your tailpipe isn’t clogged when you run the heat to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. This is especially important in a snowstorm. 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.[2] X Research source
2
Run 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 again to save your gas. [3] X Research source Always check your tailpipe before turning your heat on so carbon monoxide doesn’t build up in your car. This is especially important in a snowstorm, since snow can pile up and block your exhaust pipe. If there is anything blocking the pipe, clear it away before running the car. 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.[4] X Research source
3
Insulate your windows with anything you have. Your car will lose a lot of heat through its windows, so blocking them off is important. Any type of covering can work as insulation. Solar windshield shades work well. [5] X Research source You can also use newspaper, cardboard, plastic bags, or anything else you can use to cover the windows. Line your windows with these items to hold heat in 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.[6] X Research source 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.[7] X Research source
4
Crack 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. [8] X Research source
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Method 2 of 3:
Preserving Your Heat

1
Wear 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. [9] X Research source Keep your shoes on as well. You’ll lose heat through your feet, even if you’re wearing several pairs of socks. If you have other clothes leftover, you can use them to insulate the windows.
2
Use a sleeping bag if you have one. If you’re planning on sleeping in your car, then a sleeping bag is the best choice. Pack a good, thick sleeping bag and bundle up in it as soon as you settle in for the night. [10] X Research source Try to avoid breathing into your sleeping bag. This builds moisture around your body and could make you colder. 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. Also use an inflatable sleeping pad if you have one. This prevents you from losing heat through the bottom of the car.
3
Move around to keep your body temperature 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. [11] X Research source You don’t have a lot of room in a car, but you can still do simple exercises. Do some sit-ups, neck rotations, pushups, leg squeezes, and hand pushes to heat yourself up. 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.
4
Wrap 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. [12] X Research source If you don’t have a blanket, towels can work too. 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.
5
Eat 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. [13] X Research source Healthy fats are especially good for keeping you warm, so pack some nuts or peanut butter if you’re planning ahead.[14] X Research source
6
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You might not think of this, but dehydration is a real danger in the cold. Your body needs water to keep itself warm, and you might not realize it if you’re thirsty. Drink plenty of liquids while you’re in the car so you don’t get dehydrated. [15] X Research source 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.[16] X Research source 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.[17] X Research source
7
Huddle 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. [18] X Research source If you have blankets, wrap yourself up together to share as much heat as possible.
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Method 3 of 3:
Extra Heat Sources

1
Light 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. [19] X Research source Sternos also produce heat, so you can 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 with it lit.
2
Stuff hand warmers around your body. Disposable hand warmers are a handy, simple way to produce heat. [20] X Research source 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.
3
Use propane heaters with caution. Emergency propane heaters produce a lot of heat, and they can really keep the inside of the car warm. 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. [21] X Research source You could also make a makeshift heater by dipping cardboard in antifreeze and lighting it. Take the same precautions if you use this trick.
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