Skip to comments.Survival in a Suburban Area without Power (vanity)
Posted on 11/01/2012 3:33:35 PM PDT by BobL
Hi fellow FReepers,
Since we have some really good people on this site when it comes to survival techniques, I'm wondering if people have suggestions as to the best method to keep warm in the aftermath of an event like Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast (where temperatures will be in the 30s in the next day or so). While we all talk about having 20 acres and multiple pillboxes for when it happens, I suspect that most people, like myself, live in relatively modest houses, in communities where people are packed together relatively densely. In other words most of us likely live on 1/4 to 1/2 of an acre. Lots of us probably don't have fireplaces, or have the lousy pre-fab ones that can barely fit a log.
So here's the scenario, and assume this is well before the hurricane has hit...so there's plenty of time to buy supplies and equipment:
1) Your house doesn't have a fireplace (it may or may not have natural gas service - I'd like to explore both scenarios). 2) You will not have electricity for a month after the storm, and it's winter. 3) You can store up to 50 gallons of fuel (any fuel), although an outdoor propane tank would get you into trouble with the town. 4) You can have firewood, but again, no fireplace. So you need some other way to burn it.
So the question is what would be the most practical way to prepare for this. I live in Houston and don't worry much about keeping warm (although it can get quite cold here in winter). I have lots of flashlights, batteries, gasoline/propane-powered lanterns, gasoline/propane powered stoves, even a portable propane-powered water heater (works great), along with electric and natural gas water heaters. I also have the ability to collect and purify rain water.
What I don't have is a way to keep warm if the temperature dropped to 10 degrees here (which it won't, but which it does in the Northeast).
So, any ideas? I would want the system used to keep warm to be the following: 1) Non-intrusive. In other words, not immediately noticeable if it's not in use. So something that can be deployed reasonably easy. 2) If combustion is used (as likely the case), then a way to safely vent combustion gasses, while keeping as much heat as possible indoors
Any suggestions are welcome, and thanks all!
Get a quality wood stove and have it professionally installed.
Well, this doesn’t apply to all areas of the country but I’m from MA and I always tell people, if you buy a house make damn sure it has a fireplace. During the ice storm of 2008 that was our heat for 8 days without power.
Get a whole house generator on auto stand by and run it off natural gas or propane. This will let you avoid the long gas lines we’re seeing in NY and NJ. If you do this MAKE SURE you build a roof and encloser for it to keep it out of the elements.
Obama is looking presidential. Nothing to worry about.
We have a large propane tank in the yard with a feed to a vent-less gas fireplace inside. And we have a carbon monoxide detector just in case.
We fill it up once a year, and it means that if the electricity goes out, we still have a heat source. And with our own tank we aren’t dependent anything except the tank in the yard. We pay a rental fee of $50 a year for the tank, plus $200 a year for refueling.
“Obama is looking presidential. Nothing to worry about.”
LOL. I’m sure he’s warming the hearts of the people there...just not their extremities.
“We have a large propane tank in the yard with a feed to a vent-less gas fireplace inside. And we have a carbon monoxide detector just in case.”
Wow, that’s not bad. So propane can be burned indoors without venting?
Or you could do this:
“Well, this doesnt apply to all areas of the country but Im from MA and I always tell people, if you buy a house make damn sure it has a fireplace. During the ice storm of 2008 that was our heat for 8 days without power.”
That’s still excellent advice. People (rightly) look at fireplaces as decorative or novelties, but they are valid for survival in climates that get cold. So, if given a choice, get a house with a fireplace. If no fireplace, maybe look into adding one.
Build a small ‘rocket stove’ in your backyard.
Little amount of wood gets you a ot of heat for cooking
That's the ticket. I haven't bought one yet, but I priced a 7.5 KWH stand-by generator at about $2,500 last year. There would be installation costs, of course, but a generator of that capacity would run my furnace, the lights, water heater, TV's, computers, and refrigerator.
I probably wouldn't use the electric range or oven, but the microwave would do.
Its the CIC jacket. It makes any man look capable.
“Get a whole house generator on auto stand by and run it off natural gas or propane. This will let you avoid the long gas lines were seeing in NY and NJ. If you do this MAKE SURE you build a roof and encloser for it to keep it out of the elements.”
Also excellent advice, although the generator isn’t the best way to heat a place (due to low efficiency), but it will work fine if natural gas is available (a bit expensive, but much cheaper than the alternatives). If propane though, it will deplete the tank pretty quickly.
What you really need to do is get the heat off from the generator into the house...but without the exhaust gases.
If you have a small fireplace, be prepared to convert it for burning pellets.
kartographer has an article here about his ammo can rocket stove.
Long johns, good socks, boots, and coats, along with a bit of heat to get the indoor temp to about 40F or so were good enough for during the day.
I did great with it.
Back here in semi-suburbia, with no natural gas, and not willing to pay for electric heat, I use propane heat in one room, and live there most of the winter. Same routine with lots of comfortors on the bed and no heat overnight. It rarely drops past the 20s here, so it's much easier to stay warm.
That has been my real-world experience. I still live in a rather rustic manner, so YMMV.
I agree. We were once without power for 4 days in 1996 I think. We live in Southeastern Pennsyvania where the temps pretty regularly go down to the single digits over night in the winter. Our direct vent gas fireplace heated our great room and the master bedroom (which is directly above the great room) sufficiently for us to stay in our home during a very cold four days. Now, whenever the power goes out in the winter, we immediately turn on the fireplace and stay sufficiently warm.
Here’s the link.
Propane Buddy Heaters rigged with adapter to accept 5-7 gallon propane tanks.
Tent wood stove, vent out window.
Pellet stove with Honda 2000 generator. Non-ethanol gas with stabilzer stored outside shed or cache.
Warm clothing hats & gloves and sleeping bags.
Set up im a small room of the house such as a den or secondary bedroom with a low ceiling and a southern exposure, as far as the space you spend time in during a power outage in cold weather. Your body heat will go a long way toward keeping the smaller space warm.
A gas stove and gas hot water heater would go a very long way toward making the house habitable, hot food and a hot shower will be the things you miss most, that will drive you into a hotel after a week or two.
Fire, the light,mthe color, the way the flames move, is a very comforting thing, so candles, oil lamps and the like make the makeshift living arrangements seem a little nicer and more bearable.
“If you have a small fireplace, be prepared to convert it for burning pellets.”
Good advice...do you have more info on the pellets? I could see that as a good way to have the equivalent of “firewood” stored, but without the problem of firewood, like bugs (i.e. termites), which scare me.
I have two big tanks so I think I would be okay. I talked to my delivery dude and he said before a storm they fill all the trucks. Given that I think I would be okay.
I’m wondering if they do dual fuel but I tend to doubt it.
Wear insulating underwear. I like items designed for winter sports that wick away the moisture and are very thin. Patagonia is one brand, but there are others. Wear layers and you won’t overheat.
Smart Indian, build small fire, sit close.
Moral of the story: Whatever heat can be used, use it efficiently, don’t waste it.
Don’t overlook clothing, which is available in quantity.
In my moderate location, instead of heating hundreds of cubic feet, I wear a sweatshirt and cap indoors a lot.
Have you considered cuddling up with the Texans’ cheerleaders? It can’t hurt to ask.
Having a good sleeping bag is a bonus.
I have a mummy bag made with Quallofil, you don’t even dare get into it if the temps are > 40 degrees or so.
Supposed to be good to like -10F
Apparently Rahway still wants you to pay taxes on time, despite all the problems
Thanks. I chimed in on that thread too. I knew your propane equivalence was way off...and you were classy when you responded. I learned my lesson with propane a long time ago when I tried making mac and cheese for myself with a small propane camping stove that used the small (14 oz, I think) propane bottles. The next thing I knew, I nearly depleted the bottle. From that day on, I use gasoline for high-energy cooking (and Coleman sells the stoves). Gasoline has huge amounts of stored energy. Propane is still great for a lot of things...as long as you use the larger tanks and don’t mind it’s relative cost (which isn’t too bad in most cases).
Wood stove and good supply of wood. Party like its 1799....
Down here in Texas the storms hit when it’s 100 degrees. Have a 20KW whole house generator with a transfer switch and a 500 gal propane tank. Turn key price was $10K. Cook stove and heat stove run off a separate propane tank. The unit tests itself every Wednesday afternoon. It was a good investment. I’m 64 and after Hurricane Ike I swore off of stove top baths.
When I was a child about 75 years ago, we didn’t have central heating, just a stove in the living room and one in the kitchen. We burned coal, and I’m still here and healthy. We got central heating when I was about 10.
Assuming that's the case, head to Florida, So. Texas, anywhere it's warm and let your homeowners insurance cover the costs........
Oh, and invite your neighbors, who choose to stick around and freeze, to loot your home. It's a great way to get your homeowners insurance company to replace all your stolen electronics and get that 60" plasma TV you've always wanted............
They sell special mesh/grid “baskets” to put in your fireplace for burning pellets. Pellets are approx 50% more expensive than cord wood, but easier to store, transport, and handle. They should burn cleaner, and leave less ash than cord wood.
If possible sleep in a small area where heat can be confined
Better yet sleep naked with another person- you can't beat body heat to stave off hypothermia. Cuddling with a nice furry dog or cat can also help
Never sleep in the clothes you wore all day- perspiration wicks out your body heat
In North Dakota blizzards, if stranded in a car, a single candle can generate enough heat to make the difference between living or freezing to death
Backpackers and specialty stores have all kinds of fancy small stoves and fuel pellets (or use sterno), nothing beats being able to heat even a cup of water for soup or tea
Take lots of Vitamin D3
Make a box oven for baking- Scouts know how to do this. completely cover a copy paper size box in heavy foil, cut a flap opening in the bottom, place upside down, inside place a pie pan with charcoal briquets and place over a grill or small oven rack , balanced over the pie plate on tin cans. Each coal = 40 degrees of oven heat.
You can bake bread brownies or cookies. Check out the site "Instructables" for hundreds of creative ideas for self sufficiency under primitive conditions Always have good shoes in case you (and the family) need to walk a long way to relocate
“NO fire for heat while you sleep, if you want to wake up”
That is BRILLIANT advice. Hopefully all reading this understand just what it means.
I am from upstate NY and I remember a freak Halloweenish time snow storm that left us without power for about three or four days. We had to walk about five miles to my sister's restaurant that had a generator so we could eat. I don't remember everyone falling apart during that either.
Tis why I live back in the desert. Far from Holder's people in a pretty red state.
10 degrees outside will freeze pipes with water inside and cause them to break. Make sure you turn off your main water supply.
A pipe break with the water turned off is a relatively small clean up.
If the main turnoff is inside your house a break could occur before the break and could cause a lot of flooding.
A 30 degree temperature would probably not cause pipe breaks.
To keep warm wear lots of clothes and have several blankets when sleeping.
It’s probably too late to buy heaters and/or generators before the power comes back on.
My solution will run the furnace in my house for days, indefinitely if the gas utility stays up. The only reason I’d need to shut down the gen set is for oil changes and maintenance the supplies for which we’ve stored in quantity.
If that fails we have a small fireplace which will heat the core of our home. I’m very fortunate as Mrs. L’s employer gives away well seasoned, split, hardwood firewood for free. I keep a full cord of it in the backyard.
Believe it or not those Coleman type propane and gas lanterns kick out quite a bit of heat themselves. I’ve found that one will raise the temp in a bedroom a good ten degrees or so.
You might want to invest in one or two of those electric oil filled radiant heaters. If you have the power issue dealt with those can put out some serious heat. If those are appropriate to your situation you might want to look into them.
Best of luck to you, sir.
Agreed. Put everyone in one room with bathroom access. Body heat will help more than you think. Also, open the curtains when the sun is shining in and close them when it isn't. Light candles and set them in front of a mirror.
Kerosene heater or wood stove. If you don’t want to put off smoke - kerosene heater.
Move to a single room, use sleeping bags and bundle up. My preferred method of heating and cooling is my portable Weber grill adapted to use 5 gallon propane bottles. CO detector and/or ventilation required.
If you have running water and a gas hot water heater, you can fill the master bed room bath tub with hot water for heat. I used that trick once in a cheap motel with no heat in freezing weather.
A Coleman stove also works if you have adequate ventilation as does a sun filled room during the day.
We'll see if Obama is still "looking presidential" as the poop starts to hit the fan in hurricane stricken areas.
It was easy for Obama to act like the all-powerful Oz in the immediate aftermath of the disaster (or should I say like Glinda the good witch, all sparkly and waving a magic wand?
But tempers are getting frayed as people wait ... and wait ... and wait .... for food, water, gasoline, and above all, power.
I predict that by this weekend, the images of continued misery and suffering will give pause to those Dem partisans who were gleeful over Hurricane Sandy's presenting Obama with an opportunity to "look presidential."
Love my wood burning stove.
I do a lot of things similar to you. Primarily live in one large bedroom through the winter months. Heat from the TV, stereo, and computer throw a fair amount of heat in here. One thing I DON'T do anymore though, is rely solely on comforters to keep me warm at night. Just seemed to take too much of my body heat to heat things up enough for comfort. An electric blanket only uses 100 watts per hour at its HIGHEST setting. I find that if I turn the electric blanket on a medium setting for fifteen minutes when I'm getting ready for bed, it heats everything in the bed up. Then I can turn the blanket down to its lowest setting and still stay comfy warm all night with just summer pajamas on. I'll bet I use less than a nickel's worth of electricity per night operating the electric blanket. The comfort is worth more to me than the candy bar I could buy with the money I spend per month running the blanket.
I lost power for a week in our last ice storm. I had a nice kerosene heater (cost 79.00) I had kerosene stored in the approved blue container (kerosene can be pumped from certain gas stations) I keep enough to warm my house for a month. Very easy to do!
That’s a terrible post.
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