Having a plan for heat during a power outage during the winter is essential, no matter what level of prepper you are. It always drives me crazy when people say, “well, I’ll just go to my parents” (or friends or whatever). What if the roads are impassable? You need a plan for your home and your family that is more than just depending on someone else. Today, I want to talk about a few different keep-your-family-warm options that everyone should consider in their planning process. These options range from smaller, portable units to updating your fireplace with a insert, to installing propane heat in your home for emergencies.
Wood Burning Fireplace
If you don’t regularly use your fireplace for heat, this is a simple option. Keep enough wood on hand so that you could use your fireplace for warmth if you needed it. If the room where your fireplace is located has entries without doors, you’ll need to plan to close those off with blankets while the power is out, to hold in the heat. Old blankets tacked to the wall over the doorways will work. You can also hang blankets over the windows to keep the cold out. If you are using an open fireplace for heat, invest in a fire place screen to keep embers from popping out of your fireplace, and a hearth rug to protect your flooring and reduce fire risks. Also, never leave an open flame unattended – be sure your fire is out each night. Install a carbon monoxide detector that will warn you if CO levels are too high for your family’s safety (simple ventilation by opening a door or window for a bit each hour will help reduce these risks) as well as a smoke detector. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand as well.
Consider yourself lucky if you have a wood stove or wood stove insert (these links prove that anything can be bought from Amazon!) Wood stoves produce a tremendous amount of heat and will help keep your family warm through a crisis. If you don’t have an insert in your open fireplace, consider installing one. Not only will it reduce heat loss through your fireplace, you can seriously lower your electric bill by supplementing your heat pump or furnace heat with wood stove heat. With a wood stove or using an open fireplace, your key prepper planning is that you have to keep wood on hand. Last year, I wrote about wisely purchasing firewood and making sure you get your money’s worth if you buy firewood – it’s still a good idea.
Before operating your wood stove or insert, be sure to read up on properly using a wood stove so you know how to correctly utilize your stove without damaging it. As with open fireplaces, a carbon monoxide detector, and smoke detector is a must, and a hearth rug will help protect your flooring. In addition, keep some oven mitts on-hand to open the wood stove door as they will be too hot to open with your bare hands. The exterior of these stoves get very hot, very fast and will cause serious burns so be sure your children understand not to touch or play around them while in use.
We own a basic kerosene heater that I bought one spring for a steal. I also purchased extra wicks and some clean burning K1 kerosene in bottles. We have never used our kerosene heater, but it’s an additional heat source. You can pick them up for around $100 at most home improvement stores or online. There are a lot of complaints and concerns with the smell associated with these heaters, but I think if your house is freezing and your family is cold, the smell will be the least of your concerns. Be sure to place your heater in a safe location that is not blocking your escape route, but that is also at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn including furniture and fabrics.
Use a nonflammable stove board underneath your kerosene heater to protect your floors and reduce fire risks. Only refill kerosene heaters when the heater is cool, and refill them outside to reduce spillage that could result in fire when you fire up your heater. Before using your heater, read the accompanying manual as most kerosene heaters are equipped with a manual shut-off device if there are problems while using the heater.