Winter Survival- Part 3, by R.C.

In Your Home

In the first two parts of this series, we talked about how to survive on foot and in your vehicle in winter weather conditions. In this third part, we will discuss some plans to survive in your home during a cold weather event. The two worst fears for many of people who read this blog is that “the event” happpens in the winter and the grid goes down. The easy answer would be, I’ll get in my car, use mass transit, or fly somewhere that’s warm. During this past storm, we saw the shut down of all three means of escape. There were reported as many as 36 deaths attributed to this winter storm; most of those were from traffic accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from shoveling, as I read.

The main concern for winter survival in your home is heat, followed by food and water and the ability to cook and boil water. Sanition and hygiene can difficult to deal with. Lighting is very important as well as home defense, and don’t forget about your pets and livestock. Having some cards and board games would be helpful, and don’t forget about a way to charge your devices so that your kids (or spouse) don’t have a “melt down”.

Heat is my main concern. Having multiple ways to heat your living space or sleeping space safely can make the difference between life or death for your family. If the grid goes down your heating system may not work, so it’s time to bring in the space heaters. On a safety note, always think about the fire danger as well as the danger from CO poisoning. Have fire extinguishers in plain view, and go over how to use them. Buy a couple of extra smoke/CO detectors and have extra batteries. Remember that fire and EMS personnel can’t get around much better than you, and they will be busy with all the calls on the roads. Most of the 85 millon people in the path of this storm had never seen 30 inches of snow, let alone had knowledge of how to deal with it or an idea of what happens when it melts, so give the plow guys a break. This could be a YOYO (your on your own) event, so plan for such accordingly. Okay, stay on task.

If you have a fireplace or, even better, a wood stove and some wood, you are in much better shape then those who don’t. You can use wood to heat your house, cook, and boil water and provide lighting. That’s how we all survived before the grid existed. My fireplace is very inefficient, and I only plan to use it to heat the living space during the day as well as cooking in it. I have a small woodstove I can rig up in the small bedroom we plan on sleeping in. Having a Kerosene heater and some lamps is another way to heat and light, and you can cook with one as well. I own a lamp with a cooker on the top of it. My plan is to use lamp oil in lanterns and good quality Kerosene in the space heater. Having extra wicks for the lamps and heater would be helpful as well as knowing how and when to trim them. Propane heaters that are designed to run indoors can be a quick way to heat your small space in a grid down event. It can be used to cook and for light, too. Just make sure you have a ventilated area to do so. My Mr. Buddy can use small propane cylinders or a large tank. I have an adapter to fill small cylinders with a large tank if need be. I try to store a few filled propane tanks; they are easy to transport and propane does not go bad.

Finally using unleaded gas in duel fuel stoves or lanterns is my back-up for my back-up. Only, be sure to use these in well ventilated areas.

We plan too sleep in a small bedroom as a family and may even set up the family tent indoors to conserve heat. Make sure to have extra sleeping bags and blankets and have every one wear hats and warm clothing. If you do have space heater in the room, make sure you have ventilation and a CO detector.

Cooking will warm up your living space, so as long as you have food on hand and the fuel, keep cooking. Start with water for coffee or tea, cook breakfast, bake bread, heat soup. You can keep yourself occupied, heat the living space, and provide the extra fuel for your body to stay warm. If you are hungry, you will probably be cold as well.

If you have water and the pipes won’t freeze, use your toilets. If it is below freezing and you can’t maintain your heat, shut your water off and drain your waterlines after you fill up your containers. Then you can set up a porta potty or 5-gallon buckets with some wag bags in your bathroom. The shower can be used with a solar shower with heated water, or use bucket baths. It is important to drink alot of water so you don’t get dehydrated, have plenty of drinking water stored, and keep water in the warm part of the house.

It will be dark in your house. Try to have headlamps for everyone with extra batteries. Solar lamps are great; put them in the windows in the day, and put them around the house at night. I have some that screw on top of canning jars or landscape lights work also. Candles are okay. Just be sure not to start a fire with them. I got a few candle holders that fit in 2-quart canning jars, then I place them in front of a mirror to reflect the light. Generators require a lot of fuel, are noisy, and attrack alot of attention. They should be chained up so they don’t “walk” away. They are also dangerous emitters of CO. People could get desperate and think that if you have a generator you have heat, food, water, et cetera. Have a plan to defend your homestead. My garage will be padlocked. My front door will be locked and covered with plastic. We will have two means of exit and able to guard the other exits. It would be helpful to have early warning devices, like battery-powered door stop alarms and a dog to alert you. You should have some less lethal means of defense, like bear spray or use the firefighter defense– spray ’em with the white stuff and hit ’em with the red thing.

Do not forget your pets or livestock; keep clean water out for them and give them extra feed. You may have to heat a metal pail of rocks and thaw their frozen water a couple of times a day. That’s how they did it before heat lamps and heated water bowls.

I hope some of these suggestions might be helpful for those planning on winter survival on foot, in your vehicle, or in your home.