Today, I want to talk about the importance of one emergency preparedness item, this item could be critical to your survival of a grid down SHTF winter. Can you guess what it is yet? Most preppers don’t actually bring up this topic too much! It’s a way to keep yourself warm throughout a grid down SHTF winter, and no, I am not talking about a sleeping bag, or blankets, though they are very important too, I am talking about a wood burning stove!
This is probably the single most important preparedness item, and is one that is critical to your survival in a colder climate. A wood burning stove can be used for lots of different things, like boiling water to kill bacteria, cooking meals, drying wet clothes and obviously, keeping yourself warm. You may already have some form of heat output device, such as a propane heater, but, for long term survival, a wood burning stove is far superior. You can burn nearly anything that can combust in it, and if you had access to coal, that would be even better! Most countries have forests somewhere, so you are sure to be able to find wood of some soft to burn in a stove to keep warm.
In the UK winter time, one of the first things that you will find in a grid down situation is, how do you stay warm, specifically if your are further North, like in Scotland.
Many people actually freeze to death in their own homes each year across the globe, in first world countries like the UK and USA, not because a grid down, but because they can’t afford heating, so this shows us, it is very important to have a plan and know how you are going to heat your home in a grid down situation.
Not many homes built now actually have fireplaces, and if your house does have a fireplace, it may not be big enough to heat the whole property. My house doesn’t have a fireplace, so in order to heat myself in a grid down situation, I will be relying on my car generator to run my boiler/heating system until I get one of these wood stoves bought. It is December at the moment, and 4 days ago, it was -9ºC at midnight, now, if that was in a grid down situation, I would have been froze in my house without the central heating on.
What if you rent your house, like me. Installing a wood burning stove may not be an option, or, should I say, installing a permanent wood burning stove may not be an option, but, you can still buy a wood burning stove such as the Outbacker ‘Firebox’ Portable Wood Burning Stove, this is probably the wood burner that I will go for in the near future. How am I going to install it in my house though? Well, in a real grid down situation, where I have exhausted all my other resources, and have no fuel left to run my car generator, this will call for extreme measures, I won’t care about modifying the house.
My plan will be to take out a pane of glass on one of my windows in the living room, build it up with some blocks, and run the chimney from my wood burner out a hole in the block work, and seal it all up with cement and heat resistant insulation (All this will be stored with the stove incase it’s ever needed). The stove will also need to be set on blocks in order to stop it from setting the floor on fire. Again, this is a last resort, but, if it needs to be done in order to survive, it will be done.
Like I said above, a wood burning stove can be used for a number of different things in a grid down situation, and not just limited to heating your house. You can use a wood burning stove to cook on, to boil water for purification and drying clothes. For me, it would be used for all these things, as I do not have a gas cooker in my house, so if the grid does go down, I have enough propane to run my gas camping stove for a few weeks, then I will be forced to use the wood stove. As I use the radiators in my house to dry clothes on in the winter time, a wood burning stove will also be used to dry my clothes, as it is important to stay clean and look after your hygiene in a SHTF situation.
Fuel for the Stove
Fuel for your stove will be vital, make sure you have some wood cut and dried before you need it, you don’t want to be running about trying to find wood to chop when it’s too late. Have yourself a months worth of wood stored up and dried, dried wood burns better… If the time comes that you need this wood, then, you know you have a supply, and have time to collect more before it runs out.
Try not to burn treated wood, such as pallets, or fences, as the majority of this wood is treated in a solution that helps preserve it, and when burnt, it can give off toxic fumes. I know that the fumes will be going up the chimney, but, it’s better in my opinion to have nice clean wood from a forest.
You could also stock up on some coal now while you are still able to, even if it is only 5-10 bags, this will be something you will have to fall back on if you run out of wood, or cannot get a wood fire to start due to damp conditions, or for whatever other reason.
Other ways to keep the house warm
There are a number of other ways you can try and reduce warm air escaping your house, I have done this recently, and it has made a noticeable difference. First off, seal the doors and windows up with those strip things (Link to the ones I bought: tesa UK P-Profile Draught Excluder for Doors and Windows, 10 m x 9 mm – White)
I went around all the doors and windows in my house, and looked for any gaps, if I found any, I either filled them with clear silicone, or if it was a door or window, I used the draught excluders and stuck them around the frames.
Curtains, thick heavy ones; these will help a lot when it comes to keeping heat in, and the cold out, install these at your front and back door.
No matter how you heat your home, it is vital to have a backup plan, even if you already have a way to heat your home that doesn’t rely on the grid, such as a fireplace, it is important to have another method to provide heat, you never know what may happen, there may be a chimney fire rendering your fireplace useless, the chimney might get blocked and you can’t fix it, or whatever, having a backup is always a good idea.