This is the third of our four-part series on emergency preparedness. Shelter is the third component of the preparedness triangle. While this is a greater concern in cold seasons and climates, as seen in Texas this year, cold weather can be deadly in any part of the country. While some of the options for preparing your shelter for emergencies can be costly, there are many that are affordable.

To review, the four critical basic needs are:

  • 1-Water
  • 2-Food
  • 3-Shelter
  • 4-Security

Preparing Your Home

Again, the premise of this series is that you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient, with no water, power, or outside assistance, for at least 10 days. In New York, after Hurricane Sandy, nearly 2 million people were without power for days. It took 10 days to get 95% of the power restored. Many residents in Texas were without power for over 3 days in brutally cold weather as low as negative 14 degrees. More than 200 people died in that storm from hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other storm-related causes. So, make no mistake, regardless of where you live, it’s critical to prepare your shelter for emergencies.


Finding a way to stay warm is your first concern. Wood stoves and fireplaces are a great option that will help reduce your bills and can be a life-saver in power outages. If a wood-burning option isn’t possible, there are many affordable products available to provide safe, indoor heating options. The Mr. Buddy Flex system is a great option that provides 8,000 – 11,000 BTU output. Another option, if you can get the proper ventilation for the stove pipe, is hunting tent stoves. They are much less expensive than a wood stove and can be used for camping as well.


Having a generator with enough wattage to run your fridge, freezer and additional heat sources is the most effective way to eliminate the worries of staying warm. Search online for specific wattage needs based on what you want to run, but generally, 3,000 to 5,000-watt generators will allow you to power most of your needs. You can also rotate appliances, running the fridge/freezer during the day and heaters or furnaces at night. Make sure you keep a supply of gas and long power cords.


For true emergencies, there are a multitude of backpacking and camp stoves. These do run on a fuel source so make sure you’re using them in a ventilated area or outdoors.

Carbon Monoxide Detector:

These are as important as fire alarms. If you don’t have one, get one. Don’t use any open flame or fuel-powered heat without adequate ventilation and a detector – especially when sleeping.

Blankets, Sleeping Bags, and Plastic Sheeting:

In desperate conditions, you can seal off one main living area and use it as your primary living and sleeping location. If you can’t provide heat to your entire home, reduce the area to what you can effectively heat and seal that space with blankets or heavy plastic sheeting. Sleeping bags with a 20-degree rating will keep you warm. If you have sleeping bags but they aren’t that warm, a liner will help boost the warmth they provide.

Come back next week as we wrap up this series by reviewing home security during emergencies.

Product Recommendations

Here are links to help you get your shelter prepared for any emergency.

Mr. Heater Buddy FLEX Heater

4 Stars

The all-new 2020 next-gen Buddy FLEX has been totally redesigned and incorporates all-new exciting features for any cold-weather project or activity. The indoor safe, 11,000 BTU Omni-Directional Burner provides heat at 180 degrees to maximize output. With integrated gas-powered accessory controls, an updated wind barrier and pilot shield, and a quick-connect rail system ensure you're safe and ready to go in any weather conditions for any event!

Colorado Cylinder Stoves Timberline Stove Package

5 Stars

This stove package comes with a 3-gallon water heater and is made of 20 gauge stainless steel. All edges have been hemmed over for safety and rigidity. It also includes a coal grate, warming tray, mesh spark arrestor, water tank, nesting stove pipe, legs and stove pipe damper.

FIRMAN P06701 Performance Generator

5 Stars

The FIRMAN P06701 is a powerful 8350-watt 30A power generator. The Max Pro Series 389cc engine runs cool and efficient thanks to the Phoenix Fat Head Block. It runs at 72dB with an 8gal fuel tank provides a whopping 12hrs of run-time. For ultimate portability, the P06701 includes a 10” wheel kit and high leverage folding handle. Easy information is at your fingertips with a 4-in-1 data minder measuring Volts, Hertz, hrs, and low oil indicator.

Camp Chef Big Gas Grill 3 Burner Stove

5 Stars

The Big Gas Grill's three powerful burners, 615 sq inches of ample cooking space, and fully adjustable heat-control dials enable you to cook with confidence. Fire it up with its matchless ignition system. Removable legs make transportation easier and a foldable side shelf provides a food preparation area.

Jetboil STASH Cooking System

5 Stars

They say if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But this time, Jetboil set out to prove them wrong. Meet the Jetboil Stash, a camp stove that saves space in your pack, weighs 40% less than any other Jetboil stove on the market, and cooks up complex camp meals to perfection. Plus, since you need versatility when you’re in the backcountry or prepping for an emergency, they made the stove compatible with nearly any cook pot in your kit.

TETON Sports Celsius XL Sleeping Bag Liner

4 Stars

This TETON bag liner is durable and made of a brushed fabric design that minimizes twisting during the night. Use this liner with a sleeping bag to improve warmth by about 10 degrees or by itself as a warm-weather bag or travel sheet. Machine washable and dryable.

Stansport 55 Percent Wool Blend Blanket

5 Stars

Use this blanket on its own or over the top of your sleeping bag for when the temperature really drops. Perfect for outdoor use such as camping, hunting, or in case of emergency. It measures 80"x60" and only weighs 4 lbs, so you can easily throw it in your car or bug-out bag.

TETON Sports Mammoth Queen Size Sleeping Bags

5 Stars

The Mammoth Double Sleeping Bag is the perfect two-person sleep system. Its thoughtful design includes soft-to-the-touch liner, draft tubes, and mummy-style hood. Simply bring one sleeping bag to eliminate the hassle of packing two separate sleeping bags and zipping them together.

ALPS Mountaineering Blaze 0° Sleeping Bag

5 Stars

The Blaze uses two-layer off-set construction featuring a contoured hood and mummy shape, which help seal in your warmth. It's also constructed with a durable, polyester ripstop shell with a soft, polyester liner and are filled with synthetic TechLoft Silver insulation.