Once you have solved the water issue (Water Barrels and Storage) and started storing food for disasters, the next step in an emergency preparedness plan is to keep your home and your family warm in a crisis.
If you live in a warm climate year-round, heating your home may not be a big consideration. For most Americans, it is a concern, for at least part of the year.
A house full of food and bottled water is useless if it is so cold that you cannot stay in it. You must make sure that you have a safe back-up plan to heat your house in the winter if the power goes out.
Heat without electricity or gas
#1 Use gas wall heaters
Without electricity, neither an electric furnace nor a gas furnace will work. A gas furnace still requires electricity to circulate the air in your house.
Gas wall heaters that utilize propane (stored in a tank in your yard) or natural gas (piped in from city gas lines) are a great idea, and make a great emergency system since they require no electricity to operate.
Except during the coldest times of the year, these gas wall heaters will efficiently heat your home for a fraction of what that furnace would cost you on a monthly basis, saving you hundreds of dollars. They are not vented and can be installed in any room except the bedroom.
#2 Heat with a kerosene heater
Portable kerosene heaters can supply temporary emergency heat during a power outage, or they can be used to heat just one room.
The great thing about these heaters is that they can be used in the central living room area during the day, and moved to a bathroom or bedroom at night. This saves fuel and you don’t have to heat the entire house in a crisis.
Kerosene heaters can also share fuel with your kerosene lanterns.
Check local regulations to make sure kerosene heater usage is allowed in your neighborhood.
Kerosene heaters are reasonably safe as long as the user follows the manufacturer’s safety instructions. Use only 1-K kerosene, which is very refined.
At the same time, be careful about stockpiling too much kerosene in your emergency preparedness plans because it goes bad within a year.
Using any fuel other than kerosene in your heater may cause an explosion. Kerosene storage containers are blue, gasoline containers are red. Always store each fuel in the appropriate color container.
There is the potential for carbon monoxide build-up in small rooms with poor ventilation, and you may find the slight kerosene odor objectionable.
Operator error has resulted in a few home fires with kerosene heaters, so use common sense:
- Don’t use gasoline instead of kerosene
- Don’t attempt to refuel it while it is running
- And don’t refuel it indoors.
Check the wick about once a month and make sure the wick guide doesn’t have a tar build-up, which can interfere with the smooth operation of your heater.
#3 Wood-burning stoves
The best emergency preparedness system to heat a house is undoubtedly a wood-burning stove.
The stove is relatively inexpensive, the fuel is inexpensive and readily available in most rural areas, and installation and operation of the stove are not difficult.
Once properly installed, a wood stove is totally independent of all other utilities and can save your bacon in a disaster which causes a power outage.
In an extended emergency you can also cook food and heat water on some of them as well. Make sure it is installed correctly and provide shielding to prevent children from getting burned.
What about a wood-burning fireplace?
A wood-burning fireplace will do only if you have no other options.
Fireplaces are horribly fuel inefficient and they struggle to warm a house of any size when the temperatures really drop.
Remember that though a fireplace is aesthetically pleasing, it is still a dressed-up hole in the wall that lets precious heat escape up the chimney when not in use. Even when it is in use, 80-90% of the heat generated goes up the chimney.
That is a terrible price to pay for beauty.
If your emergency heat plan involves a fireplace, make sure that the chimney is clean and clear with no obstructions. You might want to consider a fireplace insert. They are more efficient, you can cook on some models, and they are worth the money.
You may even want to consider installing a set of propane-burning gas logs in your existing fireplace. The increase in efficiency and the reduction in heat loss will be profound.
Always equip your home with fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. Always have lots of blankets and warm clothes on hand.[Tweet “Always equip your home with fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. #SHTF #PrepperTalk”]