Monday, February 7, 2011

Baby, it's COLD outside!

NASA satellite photo of the huge February 2011 snow storm 
Like much of the United States, the Harried Homemaker Acres got a deep blanketing of snow last week. It disrupted our lives slightly, but otherwise left us unscathed. Hubby Dear chose to spend the night at work Tuesday. He was on-call that evening and things could have been dicey if he had to drive back to work during the blizzard. I also was unable to make my usual mid-week grocery run. No worries - we had plenty to eat in our food storage. Woohoo! Time to break out the Girl Scout cookies!

The only thing that gave me pause was the thought of what I would do if we lost power. Sure, I had plenty of food I could cook on my gas stove and non-electric playthings to keep the kids busy, but how would I keep them warm? The only source of heat in our house is the furnace. It burns propane but it also requires electricity to function. I wouldn't even be able to drive somewhere that still had power or a generator since my mini-van would be no match for the large drifts of snow in our driveway.

That sick feeling you get when you realize you've forgotten something important lodged in my stomach. Oops. That's a rather large hole in my preps. Thankfully, the layer of ice we received wasn't enough to bring down the power lines and a potential crisis was averted.

I hadn't totally forgotten about the issue of keeping warm during the winter. I just blithely decided that food storage was more fun pressing since inflation is rising rapidly and we are getting a wood stove sometime in the next couple of years. Anything I bought now to heat our house during a power outage would simply waste money, right?

WRONG! I failed to remember the Rule of Redundancy:  you need to have back-ups for all vital preps! Even something as old-fashioned and simple as a wood stove could fail. What if you run out of wood? Maybe you get sick and become physically unable to cut wood and haul it inside. Having a back-up plan for heating your home in such a situation could make all the difference.

One of my prepping goals for 2011 is to start saving up for a small house renovation that would include one of these fabulous soapstone wood stoves. We'll do this, but we also need to get something like one of these Mr Heater "Big Buddy" Propane Heaters. It's safe to use indoors, shuts off if it tips over (important with my crazy rugrats), and can be hooked up to the kind of propane tank you'd use with a gas grill.

How would you keep your family warm if the power went out? If you haven't thought about it (or if you've ignored it because it's not one of the "fun" preps ), it's time to think it through. Especially if you read one meteorologist's predictions for the next five winters.


  1. Good question. That is one hole in my own preps that I have yet to address. I live in an apartment in town with electric heating. In fact, the vast majority of housing in my town is electric because snow is rare here, and mostly it rains during the winter. However, it still gets darn cold when the power is out... My thought is to push the furniture out of the way in the living room, pitch our tent, haul in the mattress, and bundle up with blankets and sleeping bags. We have the little lights that you wear on your head. They are actually not to uncomfortable to sleep with (found that out when I fell asleep with one on my head).

  2. We recently built a new house, and a "must have" for me was the woodstove fireplace. I thought it would be mostly supplemental heat and for emergencies, but we've been using it a ton this winter because it's been so cold. I have lots of access to wood... but the thought that we might be too sick to chop it had never occurred to me. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

    I think, though, that I will just suggest to Hubby that every spring/summer he chop enough for our woodpile to last at least 2-3 seasons in case something should happen. And if we shut off the main living area with blankets, it wouldn't take much wood to keep that area warm enough for comfort.

  3. Found you through the Survivalmom ring...I love your blog! We currently have propane heaters, but I am saving up for a wood stove. Thanks for all your good work and keep prepping!

  4. I dread the day when I realize that I have a huge hole in my prepping! Thank goodness you realized it with no harm done!

    Since I'm in the south, I'm more concerned with how to stay cool during the intense (and LONG!) summers. The thought of a power outage (and resulting lack of ice) terrifies me. I'd love to hear suggestions if anyone has them ...

  5. Harried- I got some 100% wool blankets for $20 each. When my GI Bill money comes in, I'm getting some sleeping bags also. (both from the "Cheaper than Dirt" catalog) I keep an eye out on Craigslist and junk shops for wood burning stoves. Mother Earth News has an easy- looking wood stove plan online, if you know/can hire a welder. Their online resources are excellent.
    Courtney- I've been thinking of figuring out how to make a swamp cooler. I'm in Texas and even with the heat off, it only goes down to about 50 degrees inside, when it's zero outside. But man, I don't know what my husband would do if we lost AC!!

  6. It's always so much better to prepare on THIS side of an emergency, isn't it? I think that's the preparedness mindset that we get after we've been prepping a while. The Apartment Prepper wrote about putting up sheets of bubble wrap on her windows as insulation. That would be one way to keep cold air OUT while you're making plans to heat up the air inside.

    I'm also concerned about staying cool in the summer. Last year we bought a portable swamp cooler, and it does a very nice job, but not in the worst part of the summer. We still have to figure out a plan for those 110+ degree days!

  7. Currently, at school there isn't ,much I can do. I am not supposed to have anything that can catch anything on fire,lol. I do have some matches with me so I could start a fire under the gazebo on the concrete pad in the middle of the courtyard. My other option is to use clothing for a draft snake, put aluminum foil on the window, bundle up and get several people to huddle in one room to play cards and generate body heat. Oh...and I have the emergency blanket that came in my first aid kit.

    At home we have 4 different ways to cook/ produce heat. Lol. We'd probably be having a family camping trip to the backyard in the cold. 7 people in one tent = warm.

    As for power out in the heat? Um, I spent a good chunk of my childhood in good old OK with consistent 100 degree weather, aside from the humidity here, I can handle summer just fine. I'd only be worried about the grandparents.