Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Loss of Electric! Keeping Warm Indoors

     There you are lying in bed in your warm apartment reading a good survival book.  You put the kids to sleep a few hours ago and your wife is sleeping soundly besides you.  You’re all tired because you spent the day making sure your apartment preps were in order due to a big, “storm of the century” snow storm on the way to the city.  You know that media has been wrong many (many) times before about storm intensity on The East Coast, but you figured it never hurts to go over your supplies.  As a prepper you believe in always being prepared.  You are also aware that when the city does get hit by a major snow storm, it cripples us (mainly due to our lack of preparation and knowledge of how to handle big snow.)  Though you love your book and could read one more chapter, you decide to turn off the lamp and retire for the night.  As your about to close your eyes, you decide to get up and take a brief glance out your window.  You see maybe six inches of snow accumulation on the ground already, maybe this time they could be right?

     You awake early to notice that your head and face are strangely cold.  In fact it’s so cold in your bedroom, that you can see a hint of your breath when you breathe.  You look over at your digital clock, it's dead.  You try your lamp, same deal.  Electric is out.  "No problem" you think to your self, "I have a hand-crank portable radio so I can check the news to see what the deal is, and when the electric is expected to come back on."  You turn on the radio to get the news and happen to look outside just as the radio announcer states;  “storm of the century hits the East Coast…  Twenty feet…  Electric grid down from New York to Chicago!”

     This little piece is intended to paint a very plausible picture of what happens to us in the city when we are faced with a mini-disaster.  Now most people who are prepared should be able to get through this type of disaster with little change to their lives.  They may in fact enjoy the snow, and make the best of the situation by learning how effective their preps were for the few days they lost power.  By taking stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what they lacked most, if anything, they could help bolster confidence in their preparation for future events.  I mentioned this story to help you get a glimpse of all that is possible in our day-to-day lives in New York.  The story is also meant to get you to start thinking about how sufficient your families preps are, and if you could handle something as simple as being without electric for a few days in the winter.  Imagine the disaster laid out above and play it over in your mind’s eye.  Would you have enough water, food, and supplies for your family to live comfortably in your apartment for a few days without electric?  How would you handle you and your family’s safety if your apartment’s temperature dropped into the low 40’s?

     I mentioned this topic briefly in yesterdays post about portable stoves, and it’s something that needs to be addressed with winter quickly approaching.  My main problem with using your stove or even a propane heater to heat your apartment is that they are extremely dangerous if left on for long periods of time due to carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide is very dangerous.  It’s invisible, does not smell, and you won’t know what hit you until your dead.  Another problem with portable fuel heaters is the risk of fire.  The fire department will have enough problems with the grid being down, and starting a fire could have very deadly consequences.

     There are a few safe ways of keeping you and your family much warmer if stuck with no heat, all of which just require some proper prep, and knowledge (of course.)  The first line of defense against the cold will be the proper use of clothing.  I go over a wonderful three-layer system in this post.  After getting an understanding of the proper use of layers, the only other thing about clothing I would like to add is to make sure everyone in the family has a comfortable wool hat, and wears it at all times while in the cold apartment.

     The next step will be to either locate the smallest room in your apartment, besides the bathroom, or set up a tent where you can fit it.  This location will be where you will sleep.  By shrinking the space you and your family sleep in, you’re conserving the heat from your bodies.  I prefer the tent method as it’s easy to place in the living room with some sleeping pads/bags and is very efficient.  If you have kids, I suggest making it into a fun indoor camping trip hot chocolate and all.  The less you stress about disasters, the less they will.  If you don’t have a tent, place blankets in the doorways of the room to help keep the heat confined to that room.  You could also build a “fort” like you did as a child with pillows and sofa cushions.  You should place a bunch of beds on the floor as well, so you’re not directly on the floor.

     The next step will be to cover your windows with clear plastic and duck tape.  Make sure to use clear plastic, and if it is a window that gets lots of natural sunlight don’t block too much of the sun’s rays.  You could also use mylar space blankets, but I would only suggest those if the window gets no sun.  Also place a towel at the bottom of your front door if there is a draft.

     The last and probably most effective way of staying warm is to sleep next to each other.  Your body’s natural heat will fill up your small sleeping space quickly.  If you have animals, invite them into your tent or fort as well.  You should also be sure that everyone ups their calorie intake as that helps heat up the body’s ‘internal furnace’.  Drinking hot liquids also heats the body core up, and boosts morale.  Try and have some hot coco or caffeine free teas on hand to drink before going to bed.  You can heat the water up with your portable stove.  Just do me and your neighbors a favor; don’t leave it on to heat your apartment up.

     A few preps can really make a difference in how you handle disasters large or small in The Apple.  If something like this does occur in the future you will be able to take it in stride.  Who knows, you may even get time to get in some sleigh riding in Central Park while everyone else is digging out. 


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