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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Week - Back To Basics - Shelter & Heat

Now let's take a look at shelter  and yet again, consider our two scenarios.  If you can stay in your home, all the better.  Frankly it's the best place for you considering all the mayhem in the world around you, your own home will offer some peace of mind & a sense of normality.  Not to mention that's where all your preps are.  There are only a few considerations you need to keep in mind, these are heating, lighting & cooking.  When disaster strikes, most likely you will be without power and possibly for a few days or longer.  Given the Canadian climate, heat will be a major concern.  For home owners, this will be a simple issue to tackle.  A wood or gas stove can supply enough heat to keep a room or two warm and prevent water pipes from freezing.  Others may prefer to use a portable generator to power a small electric space heater.  Whatever you choose, try to reduce your living space to one or two rooms, as trying to heat a whole house with a backup heat source will likely prove impossible.  There are several models of propane or kerosene heaters available on the market and although safer than in years past, any open flame heat source poses dangers.  When using this type of heat source, you must provide for ventilation as fire consumes oxygen and produces deadly carbon monoxide, not to mention a fire hazard.  Also, don't forget that you will need to store plenty of extra fuel AWAY from your living area...as in OUTDOORS.  In any case, seal off all but your designated "warm room" and use passive solar heat whenever possible.  Any window that gets direct sunlight during the day should be unobstructed when the warmth of the sun is gleaming into the room.  Close the blinds or curtains at night to help prevent heat loss.  With a fireplace or stove installed, cooking can be handled with ease. Anything you can cook on a typical kitchen range can be cooked on a wood stove (or gaz stove for that matter).  Another great option is a propane or naptha camping stove with two or three burners.  These will put out about 10,000 - 12,000 cooking btu's per burner and have worked well for me in the past.  If you find the little 16 ounce cans of propane expensive to consider for a long term use, you can get an inexpensive adapter & hose to run them off a 20lb tank.

Bugging out will usher in a whole different set of preps.  For shelter, other than your car, consider a tent.  There are plenty of affordable options for you from tiny 1 man pups to virtual roll up apartments.  Do yourself a favor and set up a new tent in the yard, park, friend's house or whatever.  Seal the seams with a recommended seam sealer and familiarize yourself with how to set it up and take it down.  Another variation on this could be a tube tent or even a tarp with some cord in a pinch.  What you want to remember is how long will you need to use it?  For bugging out to a relatives house, a tube tent for two or three nights might well do the trick if the weather is right.  In the winter, or if you will need to live in a tent until repairs on your house are complete, then something more elaborate and comfortable will be needed.  For heat options when bugging out, small, portable, non electric options need to be used.  Remember the hazards of open flame sources in the home...this would be ten fold in a tent or temporary shelter.  Good clothing, worn in layers &blankets or a good sleeping bag will play an important roll to keeping warm.  As for cooking, well, consider your food preps for a bug out situation.  If relying on dehydrated foods, the a single burner camp stove, sterno stove, or solid fuel stove will serve well, as most of your cooking chores will be simply boiling water.  If you plan on using your car for shelter as well as transportation, remember that you will have to open a window when your car idles.  Start your car and crack a window.  Then run the heater until you have enough warmth.  Close the window and turn off the car.  Carbon monoxide easily gets into a car when it idles, so rely more on clothing & blankets than your car's heater.  This will also save valuable fuel for traveling. 

Of course, if you plan on heading to a friend or relative,make sure you have cleared that with them ahead of time.  By ahead of time, I don't mean 10 minutes before pulling into their driveway.  Make your destination part of your original plans and have several routes for getting there mapped out ahead of time.

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