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:
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.