There are six key areas of emergency preparedness. The 6 areas of preparedness are food, water, shelter, security, sanitation and first aid. Those are not in order of importance either. You can choose the things that you feel are most important and work on those first. I believe our basic needs like food and water should definitely be in the first things that you do. Hence why we have already covered those so far. We’ve also covered some of what you would need for sanitation and some first aid as well. That leaves us with shelter and security. Honestly, security should be an easy one but at some point we’ll probably cover that one too. Today’s prepping falls under the shelter category and we’re going to discuss methods for emergency heating
The very obvious solution to all emergency heating concerns is to have a fireplace or wood stove (or both). However, I recognize that it might not be as simple as just installing a new fireplace or woodstove in your home. If you live in a rented home, for example, this just isn’t a feasible option. However, if you have the option this is, by far, the best way to go. One tip I will mention is to use a woodstove to heat your barn or garage. Then you will still have it on hand it just may need to be moved. If you already install it in the first area though you would understand what would be needed to move it. This allows you to have it as a backup but doesn’t require that you make major changes to your home unless completely needed.
These are great to keep on hand in case you aren’t able to get fuel to run your furnace or you want to limit the use of that fuel because it’s so incredibly expensive (which feels awfully familiar at the moment). They are relatively inexpensive and they’ve made a lot of improvements so that you can set the temperature and decide how long they stay on. There are two downfalls to these. One is that they do require electricity. If the power is out, you are SOL. Two is that they can be a fire hazard. We’ve all heard those horror stories of something falling on it or getting thrown on it and burning the house down. In a situation where heat is life and death I’ll still take that risk though.
Propane or Kerosene Heater
These heaters are probably what I would recommend the most out of all of the heating methods for emergencies. These nifty little units run on fuel so you are still able to stock up. A propane furnace would still require electricity to run (minimal but still required). A small propane heater doesn’t require any electricity. I can also attest to the fact that they get places very warm and very quickly.
We have a unit like the one below and it has worked wonderfully for us to heat our barn when we are doing things out there. The key to these units is making sure that you have the fuel needed to run them. As long as the propane tanks are stored well and maintained they will last for many years. Kerosene has a shelf life of 5 years! That is a good shelf life to allow you to stock up for awhile.
Hunting Heaters (Buddy Heaters)
A lot of hunters are familiar with buddy heaters. They take these little guys out to the woods to stay warm in their blinds while hunting. These are a great option to keep on hand but make sure you have a lot of back up fuel for them!
This is the cheapest and probably the easiest way to get some sort of heating element on hand. These aren’t going to pump out a ton of heat. If you are in the middle of a Michigan winter and relying on these for heat you are most likely still going to be cold. However, they are still better than nothing. If this is all that you can afford or all that you have room to store you will still be better off than have no heat at all.
Homemade Candle Heater
These little things started making an appearance when the winter storm rolled through the south and left many in TX and OK without heat. They aren’t use to winter storms so it was a pretty big deal and there were some casualties because of it. These are made using some tea lights and a clay pot. I’ve never made one so I’m no expert. However, keeping some tealights and some clay pots on hand is a really easy and cheap way to make sure that you have heat. There are a lot of resources out there on how to get these going. My one piece of advice would be to do your research ahead of needing them. If the power is out and you can’t use your phone you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing.
Solar or Wind Powered
If you are looking to invest in more “off grid” systems there are some solar and wind options that would allow you to heat your home. If you are able to get enough electricity from wind or solar you would be able to use electric heaters and be just fine regardless of any emergency. These systems are more complicated and can be a very large investment but well worth it if it really comes down to things hitting the fan.
This sounds really weird, why is there a tent on a heating list. Well, depending on your emergency this might be a good way to stay warm. If you need to get warm put up a tent in your house and pile blankets on top of it. Corral everyone into the tent and huddle up. The blankets will help keep all of the body heat in, making the atmosphere warmer. It’s truly a temporary solution. It wouldn’t work for weeks at a time but would be enough to get you by in a power outage.
Blankets, Hats, Gloves, & Coats
Even if you are in a warm climate I would make sure that you have some warm gear on hand. You never know if you will be forced to leave your home at some point and move into a different area. Or, if you are planning to bug out this needs to be part of your packing. The last thing you want is to have to move from FL into the middle of a midwest winter with no gear. These are honestly the easiest emergency heating items. They can be put into those vacuum sealed bags and they will take up a tiny amount of space in your home.
In summary: Emergency Heating
This is another area that I recommend you have multiple solutions. We have a fireplace and multiple propane heaters. We still have work to do though! It is on our list to get some extra fuel on hand to make sure we are fully prepared. No matter what climate you are in, there is some homework here. Make sure you have at least something on hand just in case the world flips upside down and it snows in FL!