I know some of you around the country have been experiencing winter already but here in the northeast we had a very mild December. It was a little disappointing to not have any snow on the ground for Christmas but it has finally arrived. In the last couple of weeks we have had probably a foot and a half between a couple of storms and it is snowing again today. Part of why my husband and I live in Maine is we love the change of the seasons, even winter. I admit that fall is my favorite but I do look forward to the first snow of winter. There are some years, like last, that winter seems like it will never end but it always does.
So, are you ready for winter? Around here there is always a chance that the power will go out during a storm, well actually, anytime. In the summer it is not such a big deal because it is not cold but it is still an inconvenience. However during the cold months keeping warm during a power outage can be a challenge.
We use wood as our primary heat source anyway so that is simple for us, just keep feeding the wood stove. Some homes have fireplaces that can be used for heat in an emergency. It is important that maintenance be done regularly on a fireplace. The chimney, flue and damper need to be clean and in good working order for use. If that is not a option for you I encourage you to look into alternate sources that do not require electricity. There are kerosene and propane heaters available but make sure that you follow the instructions to the letter. It is important that there is sufficient ventilation when using an alternate heat source. I would also recommend that you have a carbon monoxide detector in the space.
Any heat source is only as good as the fuel it uses. No matter if you are using a wood stove, fireplace, kerosene heater or a candle heater without fuel they all are useless. We have a wood shed that is filled each summer for the following winter but if you don't use wood regularly but have a wood burning back up obviously you need to have some wood stored. Likewise for a propane or kerosene heater. Propane will store pretty much indefinitely. You can store the small camping size propane fuel all the way up to 100 pound tanks. It depends on what you are trying to run with the propane. We have propane plumbed to the house but that is not accessible to hook to something else. I have a couple of 100# tanks and the hook up hardware that we could connect them to either a grill or a heating device if needed. We also have several of the grill sized tanks that we keep filled and rotate on a regular basis through the grill mostly.
Kerosene needs to be stored in containers just like those that gasoline are stored in. They make ones that are blue to indicate that they contain kerosene. If you go to the section where gas cans can be found at the store there would be blue ones for kerosene and yellow ones that are meant for diesel. As we have talked about before on fuel storage be sure to rotate your storage regularly so that it will not get old. How much you store is up to you. Our third source of heat for our home is a heater that runs on kerosene that came with the house so we have a fairly large tank with kerosene in it. We also have back up lighting in the form of Aladdin kerosene lamps.
Now on to the candle heaters. I am intrigued by the idea of using a few clay pots, some bolts, washers, nuts and candles to make a room heater. The link above takes you to several pictures of different versions of this idea. I have not yet made or tested one of these but it looks like fun. My son actually has a fireplace in his apartment but no source for wood so putting one of these on the hearth might work well for him. So if you are going to go with something like this you of course would have needed to put together one or two of these and have the candles needed to produce the heat. I buy jar candles at AC Moore. They have good sales if you keep an eye out. I usually just get vanilla since other scents seem to be a little overwhelming. These burn for a long time as opposed so some of these designs that call for tea lights that burn out in a few hours. It is always a good idea to have some candles on hand anyway. Not only do they provide light and a bit of heat when the power is out it adds a bit of romance and fun to the situation. Just make sure that you have safe places to put them so that children and pets can't disturb them and get hurt or cause a fire.
Speaking of fire. Everyone should have a fire extinguisher and smoke dectors in their home too. Hopefully you will never need it but if you do, you do. However with that said, never try to fight a fire alone. It is much better to get your family and pets out of the house and call the professionals.
Have flashlights and know where they are. Store them in a easy to reach place and check their batteries on a regular basis.
Keep extra sweaters, blankets and warm socks on hand too. I helps to layer up. If you have a way to heat water drinking warm beverages also helps you to keep warm. I keep a full kettle on my wood stove all the time. Get out the board games and sit by the fire and play games by the light of the kerosene lamp. It can be rather fun.
Let's talk about water next time.