MESSAGE FROM TESS
I hope that each of you had a wonderful Easter weekend. For me, the three-day weekend went by so quickly spending time with family and friends.
Although, the first shoots of Spring are popping up and many of us have enjoyed a rather warm winter season across the country, I want to bring up some important points on cold weather preparedness and how to survive in a grid-down scenario. In this case, without heat to warm yourself and your home, winter will be a nightmare to endure if you are not properly prepared for it. When the grid goes down, finding a way to maintain warmth will inevitably be left up to you. This week, we will discuss how to take precautions and prepare using different methods to insulate your home can save your life. We will also remind you of how to prevent heat loss and how to deal with medical emergencies that are caused by exposure to cold weather.
With our next newsletter, we will weigh in on the topic of self-reliance and how acquiring the right type of survival skills and training will provide an individual with a diversified knowledge base on how to survive during and after a disaster.
Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to leave their preparedness stories at Ready Nutrition. It really does help our community become more resourceful and better prepared. We’d love to hear more, so if you have a story that will help, or even if you want to suggest a preparedness item that you can’t live without, we’d love to hear about it. We look forward to hearing from you!
We want to help get you and your family on the right track to preparedness. Using a food storage calculator, like the one at Ready Nutrition, can help you learn how much food you need stored for an emergency. Moreover, help out a friend and send the 52-Weeks to Preparedness series.
Have a great week,
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
PREP OF THE WEEK
Week 40 of 52: Cold Weather Preparedness
In a previous newsletters we discussed in depth the nightmare we would experience during a prolonged or long-term power disruption. Taking this a step further, what would happen if this event occurred in the dead of winter? This is a serious threat for those who see frigid cold weather temperatures during the winter? In this case, it will be up to you to keep yourself and your family warm until the grid comes back up or until Spring arrives.
In an article written by the talented Sarah Duncan, she discusses this very issue and adds that, “Our society has become so certain that the grid is permanent that many homes built over the past 50-60 years have been designed without the vital elements of a fireplace or a wood stove for heat.” In the newer homes, most of the fireplaces are present for aesthetic reasons rather than practicality. For this reason, we must prepare accordingly in order to stay warm.
Exposure to cold for long periods of time can be caustic to the body tissues. When the cold hits the body and your core temperature drops, your body will kick into survival mode by cutting off circulation to the outer extremities first (like when a lizard detaches its tail). The fingers, toes, nose, ears, and lips are the first places your body ceases to keep alive when faced with death by freezing. These are the first parts of the body to show signs of frostbite. Keep in mind that you can develop hypothermia with temperatures above freezing. The fastest way to become hypothermic is a combination of cold temperatures with wind and rain. In this case, your body loses heat 25 times faster than it would by just being out in the cold.
Older individuals and small children are at the greatest risk of hypothermia. Diabetics and those who suffer from low thyroid levels are also more at risk. However, anyone who is subjected to the elements long enough will surely be effected. Learn about the signs of hypothermia and how to treat it.
Let’s begin discussing some solutions and practical ways to prevent this. Having some space heaters on hand will be a Godsend when temperatures start dropping rapidly. Propane heaters, such as the Little Buddy heater can provide a room with ample heat and are considered safe for indoor use in most states. There are several propane heaters on the market that do not require electricity. Kerosene/Oil heaters are also beneficial to have during cold months. These heaters burn a wick for heat, fuelled by the addition of heating oil. An antique “Perfection” oil heater can be a charming addition to your decor that can be called into service during a grid-down situation. Click here to read more information about the different types of kerosene heaters that are available.
Every preparedness layer makes a difference in the case of surviving the winter in a grid-down situation. We can make the most of a dire situation by insulating the body and insulating the home. Aside from the obvious ways to stay warm, consider the following:
Insulating the Body
- A large majority of body heat is lost at the back of the neck and at the top of the head, so make sure that you use the layering principle with your clothing. Ensure you have a warm hat to wear and to make sure your chest and neck are covered with a scarf. Lightweight gloves will also help you maintain your warmth. Wear heavy socks and shoes to protect your feet from cold floors.
- Hand warmers and foot warmers are a great way to increase your core body temperature quickly. Click here to learn how to make a pocket for these warmers to prevent scalding to the skin.
- Use heavy sleeping bags. Zipping into a sleeping bag will conserve your body’s warmth more than simply getting under the covers.
- Bivvy sacks are ideal for adding an extra layer to your sleeping bags for added warmth.
- Crumbling up newspapers and putting them in your clothing will provide some extra warmth as well.
- Pitch a tent. This works especially well when you have children because it adds an element of fun to an otherwise stressful situation. Inside a tent, you can combine your body heat to stay much warmer.
Insulating the Home
- Light some candles. Burning candles can add some much needed warmth to a small area. And if you want to make the most of heat emitted from a candle, try making a space heater from a candle. This handy device collects, retains, concentrates, and radiates dry space heat from a candle.
- Sealing off a room or a smaller area to heat by using a folded quilt at the bottom to better insulate the room. You can also hang heavy quilts in the doorways of rooms with a heat source to block them off from the rest of the house. Ensure that you seal any drafts coming from windows in the room as well.
- To prevent heat from escaping from the fireplace when it’s not in use purchase a Fireplace plug. It is an inflatable pillow that seals the fireplace damper, eliminating drafts, odors, and noise. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.
- Insulate your windows. Rubber weather sealant and/or window insulation film can also keep drafts at a minimum.
You can also use a plastic shower curtain or bubble wrap and duct tape, topped by a heavy quilt to keep the wind from whistling through your windows. This has the added benefit of keeping the windows dark if you are concerned about OPSEC (Operational Security). Another option is to purchase a draft door dodger or make your own. (The instructions for this are in the “Stats and Facts” section of this newsletter.) Layers of curtains made of heavy fabrics can also keep a room more insulated.
- Here’s a way to convert your windows into passive solar heater. This passive solar heater is very simple and can be made with items already in your house. If you want to read more about designing and building a solar heater for your home, here is a great article on Mother Earth News.
- Heat some rocks. If you have a place outdoors for a cooking fire, you can add large rocks to the fire. Rocks retain heat for a very long time. When you are ready to go to bed, move the rocks into a cast iron Dutch oven. VERY CAREFULLY take this into the room that you are heating. The stones will emit heat for several hours. This is an excellent way to passively heat your room when you’re sleeping. With this method, you don’t have to be concerned about the potential of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning during the night.
In your search for warmth make certain that you also maintain safety. Keep fire extinguishers handy and invest in a battery operated carbon monoxide detector. Keep children and pets away from items that could burn them or that could tip over, causing a fire. Be sure to store all flammable materials (such as propane and kerosene) according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Did you know that snow is an excellent insulator (provided you don’t touch it)? For those of you who may find themselves outdoors and exposed to the cold elements, knowing how to make an emergency winter shelter out of snow could save your life.
Preps to Buy:
- Space heater (preferably propane or non-electric)
- Door draft stopper or windows and doors
- Sleeping bag
- Bivvy sac
- Wool socks
- Thermal underwear
- Hand and foot warmers
- Rubber weather sealant
- Window insulation film
- Bubble wrap or an old shower curtain set aside
- Duct tape
- Fireplace plug
Winterize your home before bad weather is expected:
- Check your furnace and replace filters monthly.
- Inspect the fireplace and get it ready for use. Ensure your firewood is properly seasoned, and stored away from the home.
- Insulate your exterior pipes.
- Inspect exterior of home and seal any crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Add insulation to your walls and attic, if necessary.
- Consider purchasing insulated doors and storm windows to further protect your home from the cold. This will also help lower your heating bill.
- Replace cracked glass in windows. If is necessary to replace the entire window, be sure to prime and paint exposed wood.
- If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
- Inspect roof, gutters & downspouts and clean out any debris.
WHAT WE’RE UP TO
In the Home:
And the packing continues. Our move date is inching closer and closer, and I have made it a personal goal to pack at least 3 boxes a day so that I don’t procrastinate and have to do it all at the last minute.
This week I also donated a lot of clothing that the kids have outgrown. It feels good to give back.
I bought a few 4 lb. bags of rice and beans for my extended family’s preps that I’m setting aside for them. I also purchased (and hid) some sanity items for the kids. I bought four packages of instant pudding mix, some applesauce and some candy.
For my dad’s upcoming birthday, I got him a solar battery charger with some of the recommended rechargeable batteries from last week’s newsletter. He’s the man that taught me about preparedness, so I think he will like having batteries that will run his gadgets.
Have any of noticed the price of the meat lately? And I’m sure you’ve seen all the “pink slime” articles around the Web. Well, I’m not taking any chances with that nasty stuff. I am saving up for a meat grinder. That way, I will know what my meat looked like before it was ground – not to mention, we will get better quality meat this way.
In the Garden:
Did I tell you guys that I like to play with dirt? I know its juvenile, but as long as I can remember I was always playing in the dirt and the mud. Now that I’m an adult, nothing has changed. For the past 3 years, I have made my own top soil for my garden from kitchen scraps, free coffee house coffee grounds, some donated horse manure and an investment of 1,000 worms. Of course, the worms have multiplied and flourished, and, as a result my garden has as well. I can’t tell you how important it is trust the old saying, “grow your soil.” The healthier your soil is, the better your crops will grow.
Now that we are planning our move, I have found homes for two of my raised garden beds along with my special soil. I’m happy knowing that the soil (and my little friends living inside it) will have another garden to bless. In another month or so, I will have to get rid of the remaining beds. I’m still crossing my fingers that I will get a few veggies out of the garden before we pack everything up.
STATS AND FACTS
The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. Unfortunately, a great deal of home energy is wasted as a result of leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that heat loss through windows and doors may account for 10 to 25 percent of your heating bill.
When we waste energy in our homes, we are throwing away money that could be used for other things. Although, many of us cannot always afford to replace our appliances for energy efficient ones, but we can prevent and lower our utility bills by plugging our fireplaces when they are not in use, and making door and window draft stoppers to keep the draft out.
To make a door draft stopper you will need:
Sturdy, tightly woven fabric (8” x 41-45”)
Sewing machine or needle and thread
Filler- sand, rice, dry corn, aquarium gravel, kitty litter (You can mix in aromatic elements such as potpourri or evergreen tips)
- Measure the length of your door frame. Most will be around 41” or 45.”
- Cut your fabric into a rectangle of the right width (8”) and length.
- Fold the fabric in half lengthwise to form a 4” wide tube with the wrong sides of the fabric facing out.
- Sew the length and one end together with a ½” seam allowance. Sew the length and one end again with a ¼” seam allowance. This keeps any filler from escaping.
- Turn your tube inside out, using the yardstick to help push it out.
- Using the funnel, fill the tube with the filler, leaving 1 inch at the top.
- Turn in ½” of the top edge and sew closed. Repeat with another seam ¼” away from the first.
You’re all done!
LETTERS TO TESS
Do you have a preparedness question? One of the perks of my job at Ready Nutrition is to address questions and/or concerns that you may have with your prepping endeavors. Feel free to ask anything that is on your mind because no question is too big or small. You can email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s question addresses re-packaging cereals.
Is it necessary to repackage cold cereals (cherrios, lucky charms, etc.) for long term storage or packaged rice/pasta products (uncle bens/pasta)? Is the current packaging sufficient?
Great question! I have re-packed cereals and boxed food items for extended emergencies. I usually wait until there is a sale at the grocery store and stock up.
I tell people to do this because the packages that are our foods are put in are meant for short-term storage. They are typically sealed in flimsy or see through plastic packaging that is susceptible to the elements. Re-packaging them in heavy duty Mylar with oxygen absorbers will prolong the oxidation process and keep them from being exposed to natural elements such as sunlight, air, bugs and moisture.
There’s a few ways you can prolong your foods:
Easiest Way – Take the boxed or packaged meal and put it in a 5-gallon plastic container and add lid. This will at least keep the pests and elements away. Although, the following methods will better preserve and protect the founds.
Vacuum Sealing – When re-packaging dry goods such as cereal, remember to purchase the cereals that aren’t “delicate” and can withstand the vacuum sealing process if you choose to do so. Include an oxygen absorber to ensure the cereals stay fresh and ensure the seal is good before putting away.
Mylar Re-Packaging – This is another method of repackaging cereal. Further, you can store it in a smaller plastic container to protect the contents more. Remember to add oxygen absorbers!
To read more about how to package foods for long-term, click here.
You can also find some recipes online to learn how to make your own cereals. Granola is an easy recipe to try with this.
Hope this helps.