Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 15

Thank you all for your great comments. The ideas are all spot on and very helpful.

Today, is Shelter Day

The first question to ask is how safe are you? Do you live with someone who loses their temper and uses you as a punching bag when stressed? If so, make a plan that includes gathering passport, social security card, birth certificate for you and your dependents and going some place safe - including a shelter. Try and take some personal effects, clothes, blankets... Do not announce your departure, do it quietly. Do not plan on going back to pick up anything precious. Call someone for a ride if you don't have access to a car. This is true anytime.

Next, how safe and secure are your current housing arrangements? If things go bad sooner rather than later, are you going to stay put or go be with others? If you plan on leaving in event of an emergency you might want to be in communication with those to whom you would go. Be prepared to be a good guest. Don't show up empty handed: bring tools, food, bedding, money... Plan on working and being of use. In this case you are not really a house guest, so plan on showering last, smoke outside, clean, help with meals, help with children, and find a project (such as a garden or cold frame) you can work on.

If you are staying put, Sharon Astyk has really covered this with her adapting in place classes. If you haven't already read these posts, click on the link and go read her posts from this summer. Her site has a search button, too. If you have read it great, perhaps look again.....wait, take a pencil and paper with you and take notes about changes you want to make.

In addition to what we have already covered, think about getting: tarps and tie down rope, lots of extra blankets and pillows, extra buckets, warm sweaters, matches, plastic bags, an alternative heating source, alternative toileting, alternative clothes washing, alternative cooking, good walking shoes, and lighting.

One thing is guaranteed, heating prices are going up, and so if you are planning on insulating, pick it up the materials sooner rather than later. If, like us insulation isn't in the budget, plan on ways to be more comfortable and use less energy.

Something that I've read about recently is window quilts - that is curtains made just like quilts for those who can't afford to put up insulated window drapes. Remember old castles hung tapestries on the walls to help with heating, you can similarly hang quilts and tapestries on your walls that have the coldest exposure. It doesn't have to look bad, in fact I have my best quilt hanging as a display. I plan on putting up some antique quilts that I'd rather not use. Unless you have people in every room, plan on closing off part of your house.

In the event that you lose the ability to heat your house and it is very cold, DH and I have talked about shutting off water at the main and opening the faucets to drain into the tubs. This will keep the pipes from breaking, causing water damage later on. Better of course to have alternative heating.

Plan on Alternative Heating according to what's best for your area. I do not recommend grid tied alternatives such as electric space heaters. I have seen a pretty good kerosene heater that sits in the middle of a room - it's kind of smelly but affordable. There are propane heaters for those in low altitudes. Wood stoves are an option for those who can get wood. They of course require installation. Solar is a wonderful option for those who have the money but not something you can put together quickly. Whenever you are heating with an alternative method, be sure you pay attention to fire hazard, burn risk, and especially have adequate ventilation. People die very quickly and quietly from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I have been canning all summer on a camp chef stove. It runs on propane (and I just picked up an extra bottle) and is very sturdy. I use it on the covered porch. We are about half way through building our adobe oven according to these plans from Sunset magazine. Darn, I have misplaced my camara or I'd show a picture of the project.
Our trouble is that we have bought all the firebrick available in our town and the next one down the road. For solar cooking check out Hausfrau's blog as I consider her the queen of sun cooking.

The buckets are for alternative toileting and clothes washing. You may want to pick up a dedicated plunger for washing clothes in a bucket (I'd personally want to know the plunger hadn't last been down the toilet). Tarps are an all around useful thing to have for everything from roof repair to sun shade to covering something you don't want to look at, or have seen, or be rained on. Suffice to say if you need one it's great to have on hand.

There are solar charged lanterns you can buy and Leahman's has a great selection of fuel burning lanterns. A reader recommends www.SundanceSolar.com for solar lanterns, battery chargers... and www.ccrane.com. Great stuff on both sites! Ccrane has an AM FM radio and flashlight that runs on a charge from cranking,solar or USB and will charge a cell phone! They also have a good solar battery charger.

What are your ideas for securing your house? Have you made recent changes for preparedness? Can you think of other ideas? Hit any good yard sales lately?


LisaZ said...

Today I went and picked up three grocery bags of fabric that I got through freecycle. I'll be making more window quilts! I have one top finished and just need to add batting and backing and tie it to make a quilt for the bathroom window. I'm going to use some old twin bed mattress covers for batting. I found new ones for the kids at a garage sale this summer and figured the old ones will be great for quilts.

I'll also go get more matches at the grocery today.

My new Presto pressure canner says "NO" to using it with a propane stove. Have you been pressure canning on your camp chef? Do you know if it's safe?

Moving along...

Verde said...

Lisa, I saw that on the canner. I'm doing it anyway. I figure the danger is in melting the aluminum pot, not in the safety of the food.

Chile said...

If you have the funds and wish to buy a solar oven, I've got a coupon offer on my blog for 10% off at EarthEasy. I use both my solar ovens fairly regularly, and now keep a running list of what I'm cooking in them (after stealing the idea from Hausfrau!)

Anonymous said...

I feel fairly safe in our house. We have room for more so long as we get rid of crap. Don't know who might actually come though. Safety is a real concern for me. I have been really nervous about being home alone lately. I might even start locking the house when I go out to the garden. It is far enough away that I would never know someone went in. I even decided to buy a lock for my chicken coop. I'm afraid someone will steal my chickens. I don't really want a dog, but I think it might be a good idea. Our yard is not fenced either except for across the back and a bit of one side. I don't like guns and don't want to buy one. I saw peper spray at the hardware store and forgot to buy it.

I planted more in my garden. 12 cabbage, 8 broccoli and 6 lettuce. Need to start some seeds. Winter is a fantastic time to grow stuff in FL.

Cindy in FL

Anna M said...

Stuff I have, it's time to make stuff into other stuff that's running me ragged!!!

Window quilts are on the list as are door sweeps, a covered cat bed, two more snuggly bathrobes, bloomers, and a grundle of knitted items.

Time... where can I buy that!?!

Anonymous said...

The window quilts are a great idea but for a little bit of money you can get Expanded Polystyrene panels at your big-box home store.

Cut them to window size and hold them in place with some spring curtain rods at the top & bottom.

They come in different thicknesses and different R values.

Tara said...

Thanks, Verde - you just reminded me that I needed to grab more buckets! My company (a catering kitchen) discards food-grade plastic buckets with lids on a daily basis. Today I had planned to grab another stack of them, but very nearly forgot.

Gracie said...

We are fairly comfortable in staying in our home. We have room for at least 15 others, if the need arises. Now granted, that is going to have people sleeping on the floor in the living room, and two bedrooms, but the room is there. Our house will work well. We were without power and heat one winter due to an ice storm, for 13 days. The house never got below 45 degrees inside, and that was without any kind of heat, other than the pilot light on the hot water heater. So, with a little bit of work, covering windows, etc, I think we can make it comfortable, maybe not completely warm, but livable. Summer will be much worse. We get over 100 on a regular basis here. Probably 30 days on a normal year, more on a really hot year. A hundred years ago, they built houses with very large, tall windows, to deal with the heat. They don't do that anymore. I would hope we could spend alot of time outdoors. We had plans to build a large garage out back, with a greenouse on the south side, with solar panels on the top for electrifying the house. Also, to build a large screen porch on the back, with glass panels that could be added in the winter to close it in. Now I'm not sure we will have the time to get these things done. If we do, great, if we don't, we'll get by anyway.

I have already stocked outdoor camp stoves, with a whole lot of fuel. We also cook outdoors on charcoal and have cooked on natural wood. I have all the acutrements for outdoor cooking. We have enough oil lamps for every room in the house, and extra oil. Will probably run out of that as we go along, but will see what else we can find to use in them. I have been saving sheets, and blankets for years now. I have enough for the whole family, as well as extras. I also quilt, so am going to get serious this winter in extra time (like that's ever really available), making extras for babies and children.

I have extra material on hand all the time, have been buying it over a period of about five years, and putting it away, so can make clothes if the need be, almost for every season.

Tarps and tie downs are hubby's domain. He is stocked. I have 12 boxes of matches at this point, as well as a small store of waterproof matches, and the long matches for fireplaces. I have more candles than I can use, but if things go south, I will need them.'

For clothes washing, I have an aluminum wash stand (an old one I picked up a few years back) that sits up on tall legs. I have washboards also. I need to get a wringer to put on the side of the washstand. That will do for me. I have a clothesline, which I use on a regular basis already and have for years. I also have clotheslines for the house in winter, so I dont' have to hang outside.

We have several lanterns that are solar and have a crank radio/lantern that will come in handy. We already have solar battery chargers and are looking at getting another solar charger to run the computers.

I'm sure we've forgotten a whole lot. But we'll get by, we always have.

Hausfrau said...

Apparently you can also create bubble insulation for windows which still lets the light through. The "bubbles" are actually the bubble wrap you find in packaging, or specifically made for greenhouses. You can make a frame for it, adhere it by water, or tape it up - http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrap.htm Might also be good as a daytime solution under window quilts. But, I'v never tried it, has anyone else?

We've gotten 5 or 6 free, nice buckets from our grocery deli - leftover from carrying icing!

Hausfrau said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susancoyotesfan said...


you can put 3 mil black plastic sheets behind your windows, pin it to the insulated curtains if need be. Make it about an inch shorter than the window, with the open area down at the bottom. Make sure your curtains are at least an inch or two above the floor. It works like a convection oven; the cool air gets sucked up from the floor, gets heated by the sun against the black plastic, and flows out the top of the curtain. I did this in my family room with black trash bags last year just as an experiment and even with it being less than adequate coverage, it increased the temperature noticeably, and I used the space heater less often.

I have nothing to do with this gentleman but he has MANY MANY ideas for preparedness in his book 'Sunshine to Dollars' which is where I got that idea. Google the book, he sells on Ebay as well. I would say it's worth the money in terms of creative -- and cheap -- ideas for survival in relative comfort.