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Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Surviving The Cold I

Updated on February 26, 2009

"Global Warming" has now been superceded by the term "Climate Change." The reason is that although there is inescapable evidence that the total average temperature of the planet is inexorably climbing, that does not necessarily mean that it is warmer everywhere all the time. The increased temperature has caused wild swings in the jet stream, and at times when the stream flows strongly to the south, any area north of that line can experience unseasonably or even record-breaking cold temperatures. This effect is not limited to the northern half of the North American continent but can affect the whole world. It is not unthinkable that in the very near future, places like Phoenix, New Orleans or even Miami could experience winter cold snaps which reach lows that were once limited to New England or the upper Mississippi valley. However, while the northern homes are insulated and equipped for arctic cold, the southern buildings are woefully inadequate to handle 0 degrees F, let alone sub-zero temperatures.

You must be prepared to confront arctic onslaughts in disasters and you may have to do so in a survival situation. You may be lucky enough to be in a secure house with a heating system, or you may not. In either case, it pays to be prepared.

If you're in a residence with a heating system ensure that you have a supply of heating fuel on hand. Keep in mind that if you're on natural gas there is absolutely no assurance that the gas will keep flowing or if you have electric heat that there will be any electricity available. You would be far better off with a full tank of onsite propane of at least one thousand litres, a large fuel oil tank, or a huge supply of dry, protected firewood to burn in a large, centrally located, quality wood burning stove.

In these cases, you should wire up your heater blower to a generator, as it will do you no good at all to have the heat restricted only to the room where the furnace is, and not circulated throughout the house. The best choice would be to relocate almost all your living and sleeping activities to the furnace room and forget about heating the rest of the house, but that might not always be possible. You can section off entire parts of the house to preserve your fuel, however, especially the ones facing north, or overly exposed to the wind, or having large windows. Shut off the registers and seal off the sections with heavy blankets or even plywood.

Whatever area you choose to keep warm, you must not only take steps to keep the water pipes from freezing in the underheated areas of the building, but you must also make sure that the room is amply ventilated. Combustion generates carbon monoxide which has claimed the life of countless thousands of people. Never burn outdoor fuels indoors. Charcoal briquettes can be lethal when burned inside a room. Keep an eye on any wood burning stove as it is very easy to overlook them and have them start a house fire. Never have a fire going when everyone in the house is asleep. Make sure that there is at least one fire watcher on duty at all times. They can take turns sleeping with the others.

Try to cover up all windows, doors, and any underinsulated parts of the house with heavy drapes, quilts, blankets or even cardboard and plywood. Seek out all the drafts and seal them up tightly. Always keep adequate fire fighting supplies on hand and know how to use them. Beware of using antifreeze fluids in your pipes or circulating radiator heat systems. They can leak and the antifreeze is lethal to humans and pets.

Continued In Get Through Any Disaster – What You Need To Know: Surviving The Cold II

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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      There are precious few places left in the continental United States which can be considered freeze-free any more unfortunately. However, if you're in the deep tropics, I most assuredly envy you! Have a great time!

    • retirementhelp profile image


      9 years ago

      I don't live where it gets very cold, so I hope I never have to use this. Great to know anyway.


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