“This article was first published at reThinkSurvival.com.”
The fourtieth capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must [be able to] stay warm without your normal heat sources. In it I state that:
You must “Stay warm without your normal heat sources (such as your grid-tied HVAC system). It really all starts with appropriate winter clothing and quality shoes. Ensure each person has what they need. Additionally, insulation from the outside elements is also a must. For instance, how will you improve the passive heat retention of your home’s windows in the winter, given that they are a huge source of heat loss? Likewise, how will you reduce the heating effect of the sun in the summer via your windows? A book like Movable Insulation will teach you quite a bit about these principles.”
Before we delve into this one today, I want to say that I’m really disappointed in myself with this capacity for the very obvious fact that I really didn’t finish the thought! After reading what I wrote above and then not being able to find any reference in later capacities to any sort of heating devices, this capacity only gets you half-way to where you need to be. So, I apologize for that.
Now, the expectation is that your normal source of heat, the HVAC system, is not working and it’s bitterly cold outside. That’s not good! As with any plan for warmth, it should start with your personal protection, and that means clothing. There’s a reason why outdoors-men and the like wear good quality clothing… because it saves lives and can even be pleasant. Look for clothes that are wool or synthetic (cotton is BAD for outdoors use), have plenty of insulation (you know, like the really puffy jackets), and if you expect to be doing work outside, are meant for the weather and are wind- and waterproof.
This is also a good time to point out that layering clothes is beneficial because layers can be added or removed to adjust for comfort and especially to avoid sweating, which can quickly lead to hypothermia when you cool down. Inside the house, I say layer away with whatever you have to keep warm, including any cotton clothing assuming it won’t get wet. In fact, there’s no reason not to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy so long as you can stay functional.
Let’s not forget about your feet. You need to keep them dry and warm and that means quality footwear (like hiking boots), perhaps knee-high rain boots, and maybe even a pair of waterproof socks (thanks to T.R. for that recommendation).
As preppers, we like to consider the gadgets and tools that we can utilize–in this instance–to keep us warm. But I would like to point out that it’s every bit as important to make full use of the heat generated by ensuring that our home is not simply venting that heat to the outside world; it needs to be well insulated. So, are your doors and window caulked properly, and weatherstripping in tact? What about door thresholds? Are they in place and functioning? No broken windows? Good.
I also mentioned the book Movable Insulation. I found it to be a very interesting read as to what you can do to passively heat (and cool) your home. While you’re not going to be able to turn off your HVAC for good, utilizing the suggestions found within could mean the difference between being comfortable and miserable or even life and death.
Here’s where I dropped the ball. Clothing and appropriate insulation are only going to get you so far. To keep your home, it’s contents, and you functional, we need to consider some form of heat source. In this case, I’m thinking of portable heating, such as with a Big Buddy heater, Kerosene heater, and definitely a wood-burning fireplace (the kind that put out heat, not just for show) if it’s a possibility for you. Look on Amazon for portable heaters; just ensure they’re rated for indoor use!
I do want to caution you that now is not the time to do dumb things like to use your gas stove to heat the house, or your BBQ grill, and definitely not a charcoal grill. Don’t run a generator inside (not even in the garage) and–dare I say–don’t start an open fire inside! These may seem obvious, and I hope they are, but people die every year from such acts and many will do desperate things in an emergency when they’re not thinking clearly.
There are a variety of other actions you can take to increase your ability to stay warm, from simple things like only heating one room in the house to sleeping in sleeping bags to creating a shelter-within-a-shelter, and even good ‘ol body heat from other people will go a long way to increasing your odds of surviving.