Photo Credit: LadyDragonflyCC via Flickr
The power is out and the ice left behind by the “blizzard of the century” encapsulates every branch of every tree, every power line, every car. The first 24 hours, you hear generators fire up all around the neighborhood. But then, one by one, they stop running: fuel has run out. And the lines at the gas station are startlingly long. You find out, too late, that the gas fireplace in your new home only heats one room of your house, and the storm has knocked out the natural gas lines so you can’t run it anyway. Drat.
Now, I know some of you have wood stoves and cords upon cords of wood stacked and at the ready. 🙂 But for everyone else, have you assessed your preparations to make sure you’ll be able to stay warm? Do you have sources of emergency heat? Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Make Sure Your Emergency Heater is Indoor-Safe
Not all propane emergency heaters are indoor-safe. I found that out the hard way a few years ago by ordering a setup that was incorrect for indoor use and I had to start over.
So year-before-last, I did a lot of research and ordered this emergency heater, which is safe for indoor use. I’ve found that it will run for hours off a single canister; and I use this little heater so often, that I rarely fire up my whole-house heater. I love the warm glow and I can just heat the room that I’m in rather than wasting energy. Plus, when the lights go out, I’ve got a backup for my gas fireplace. You never know when natural gas may be impacted.
When camping in the winter, it can also be used safely in your tent or RV, too, as long as there is a window or roof vent. And if you want to take car-preparedness to the glorious extreme, keep one of these in your vehicle (we bring it with us on wintertime road trips). I always feel safer in winter when I have this little powerhouse.
2. Hunker Down in a Tent
If you find yourself in a prolonged power outage in the winter, you can pitch your tent indoors to keep warm. Tents – especially tents like these – are made to keep the elements out, so you can camp in your own living room with your indoor-safe emergency propane heater and stay toasty. This is also a great way to make weathering a storm more fun for everyone.
3. A Survival Blanket is For Indoors Too
For winter weather emergency heating, a good quality wool blanket is a true life saver. Moreover, a wool blanket, such as this one, is an heirloom – these are passed down from generation to generation.
I was given one as a gift a few years ago, and it, along with the portable heater and the hand warmers, has kept us from freezing during a big storm. It’s also beautiful and made in the USA (a perfect gift for non-preppers in your life as well as yourself). It’s so nice that I keep it at the foot of the bed when the weather turns nippy.
4. Use Hand Warmers
Nothing warms my hands like an old-fashioned hand warmer – they’re a great way to stay warm when the weather has went frigid and the power is out. Choose an old-fashioned type over the instant ones, because the old-fashioned ones are refuel-able (and better in my opinion). And the fuel (lighter fluid) is easy to find anywhere — I’ve even seen it at convenience stores.
My favorite hand warmers are the classic American Zippos. I bought a few hand warmers last winter and they got daily use. Be sure to have wicks, flint and fuel on hand for longer-term survival applications. They come with a special funnel you use to refill them, and a soft pouch that diffuses the heat nicely.
Mine ran much longer than I anticipated — 24 hours once — on one fueling. Very nice. I use two of them – one in each pocket.
They make great bed warmers, too. I find that they were particularly nice on my semi-arthritic hands after a long day of typing away at this here keyboard. 🙂
5. Seal Your Windows
In the winter, you can seal your windows with plastic film to help insulate your home. You can also use it in case of an emergency to insulate a single room on its own, so you can gather your family all together and stay warm. I ordered this kind of plastic film for just such an emergency, but I’ve also heard of using bubble wrap too.
These are just a few ideas to help you prepare for the “blizzard of the century” – do you have emergency heat? What do you do to prepare for a big winter storm?
[If you have any questions about these winter-storm emergency items, let me know. I’m happy to check out a tag, give you a measurement or anything you need to know. Like I said, I have the heater, the hand warmers, the plastic film, and the blanket all within reach of my keyboard. :)]