Winter’s icy grip can be relentless and it doesn’t take the end of the world as we know it to make it unbearable – and dangerous. A power outage or other winter emergency can make having alternative heat sources not just a comfort, but a source of survival.
We’re going to explore a variety of options for alternative heating sources for when the heat in your home isn’t working for whatever reason. Some of these are tried and true methods, others are a little more experimental. All of them can make the difference between life and death in a winter emergency.
Emergency Heat Supply 1: Wood-Burning Stoves and Fireplaces
Wood-burning stoves are one of the most reliable and efficient sources of emergency heat. They can also be a cozy distraction from disaster, while also keeping your home warm whenever the cost of more traditional forms of heating get too high.
Not only can these stoves keep your house toasty warm, they can also be used for cooking. You need an adequate supply of dry firewood, as well as a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector for safety. Keep the stove well-maintained – poorly maintained stoves are serious fire hazards
Traditional fireplaces can also be used as an emergency heat source. Fireplaces tend to be less efficient than wood-burning stoves, because heat escapes through the chimney. However, you can make your fireplace more efficient by investing in a hearth and sealing gaps or drafts in the fireplace and chimney.
Portable Propane Heaters
Portable propane heaters are an excellent choice for emergency heating. You need to make sure they are rated for indoor use. You also need to use them as directed and not use them while you sleep – that can be a serious fire hazard.
Much like with the direct fire sources talked about above, you need to make sure that you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for maximum safety. Proper ventilation is absolutely essential to prevent carbon monoxide build up, which can kill in a matter of minutes.
Kerosene heaters are another reliable source of emergency heat. Only use clear, 1-K grade kerosene. This is because it burns cleaner and produces less odor – you don’t want to make a bad situation worse by stinking up the place. As always, make sure your place is ventilated well and keep the heater away from anything that can start a fire.
Generators are not a direct source of heat, but they can power electric space heaters, or even keep your home’s electrical heating system going. This will help you to keep warm during power outages. Like everything else on our list, generators should be used with caution. Always place generators outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. If you’re not an electrician, we strongly recommend you have it professionally installed by one.
DIY Heating Solutions
For survivalists, there are a few ways for you to keep your home heated no matter how long the power goes out. Keep in mind that every heat source requires some kind of fuel. So you might need to get creative about how to stay warm if the power goes down, the supply chain is disrupted and there’s no chance of anything coming back soon. Here are a few innovative ideas:
- Terracotta Pot Heaters: Placing several terracotta pots within one another around a few lit candles will radiate heat. This will only warm a small space, but it’s better than nothing.
- Tealight Heaters: Multiple tealight candles placed under a terracotta pot creates a small heater that’s safe for indoor use.
- Heat-Reflective Panels: Heat-reflective emergency blankets attached to cardboard or foam panels will reflect and retain heat in a room.
Surviving winter emergencies and power outages requires careful planning and consideration of your emergency heat sources. Each of these options has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. But by understanding safe use of these heat sources (as having a well-prepared emergency kit) you can ensure you and your loved ones stay warm and comfortable during even the coldest winter emergencies.
Do you have any unique methods for generating heat without the grid? What do you and your family have for backup heat sources? Share your tips in the comments below.