It’s Time To Prepare For Winter
By: Tom Chatham
It’s that time of the year again when vacations are over and children are returning to school. The nights are beginning to get cooler and the days get shorter. It’s also the time of year for hurricanes and soon it will be snow and ice. It’s time to prepare for winter and the possibility for power outages.
With the EPA war on coal fired power plants, it becomes more likely every year that you may loose power during a bad storm. Within the next 5 years we could lose over 200 coal plants in the U.S. making the chance of power outages more likely. At least 8 coal mines in the Eastern U.S. are now slated to be closed reducing the available fuel to keep the lights on. This reduction in power plants increases the chances of brownouts and blackouts.
Loosing power in the warmer months is an inconvenience but a power outage during the winter could become a life threatening situation. The ability to refrigerate food and cook is important enough but the loss of heat during freezing weather can be lethal. It is becoming more important every year to have a backup heat source for your home.
A wood stove is the ultimate backup heat source. It can provide needed heat and cooking capability when nothing else will work. A small supply of wood can last for weeks providing a sense of safety and comfort. With wood as the source of fuel, a few tools and access to a woodlot can provide you with unlimited fuel. The threat of fire that is present with a wood stove and the need of a chimney may not permit you to have one where you live so other methods must be sought out.
A second heat source that is well tried and convenient is a kerosene heater. Small kerosene heaters can be bought for about $100 and offer a good source of heat when needed. They can provide minimal heat and even cooking ability while using as little as one gallon of fuel every 12 hours. A 25 gallon supply of fuel can last almost two weeks of continuous heating and kerosene can store for up to 10 years. It is a reasonable alternative for suburban or urban homes that cannot use a wood source of heat.
A third energy source is propane. Propane can be used for multiple purposes. The use of small propane appliances that use a 1 lb. canister can provide a needed resource in times of crisis. Not only can it provide a heat source but can be used for cooking , lighting, power generation and refrigeration with the appropriate appliances. Many people already have a propane grill with 20 lb. canisters so the purchase of a propane heater is a perfect fit. The installation of a larger propane tank outside the home connected to the heater and other appliances inside can provide you with a ready backup during power loss. A larger outside tank can provide you with weeks or even months of heating and other abilities that can be life saving.
When using alternate heating sources it is always a good idea to have a good fire extinguisher and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the home as a safety measure.
In the event of a power outage in cold weather the very least you should have is a good cold weather sleeping bag to keep warm until power is restored. This one measure could save your life if the situation is bad enough. While you should keep other needed supplies for power outages, the need to keep warm in cold weather is a critical element that should not be overlooked.