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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Staying Warm In Winter After TSHTF

Original Article

Cold weather rocks, but are you ready for it?
Another winter is almost here and I heard on the news that heating oil costs are expected to soar this year.  They’re currently about $3.50 per gallon here in Maine right now, but they’re expected to go up to about $3.75 a gallon over the winter.  Ouch.  A typical home oil tank in New England (and I presume elsewhere) is 275 gallons.  How much would it cost to fill your tank?

Today’s prices:  $3.50 x 275 = $962.50.

Extrapolated price:  $3.75 x 275 = $1031.25
That’s a difference of $68.75.
As if things weren’t already expensive enough.
I don’t know about ya’ll, but I want to cut back on oil as much as I can.  There are different strategies you can use, but one of the best things you can do is make sure your house is well insulated.  Here are some tips and tricks on saving energy.  It starts with 7 (really 9) tips, but there are more ideas after that for insulating and so forth.  I won’t go into it too much here, but insulating is one of the best things you can do to help keep the heat where it belongs.

That’s just for the high price of heating oil, which could almost count for a SHTF event in my book.
What If TSHTF?
But this brings up the point about what will people do for heat after TSHTF?  If you’re in New England or anyplace where it gets cold for the winter – and I’m talking about in the teens or below zero at night, not just dipping into the 40’s – you’ll know that running out of heating oil if you depend on it is no joke.
If you are truly dependent on heating oil there are a few things you might want to have around in case the power goes out.
The first line of defense is your clothing.  First – dress in layers.  Wool sweaters and socks, good synthetic underwear, and warm pants are all good ways to help fight off the cold.  If the power goes out at night have some extra blankets or some good sleeping bags handy.  If it gets really cold don’t be afraid to have a family huddle.  Get everybody together in one place and snuggle up under some blankets.

Calamity Jane had a good post about cold weather clothing for women yesterday.
Space heaters
While a space heater won’t keep your whole house warm – unless you have a very small living space – you can hang blankets over the doorways or close the doors to heat only a couple of the main rooms.  I have a small kerosene heater that will keep the edge off when the power goes out.  I’ve also seen small propane heaters that fit right on top of the grill-sized tanks that do a good job of heating a room.
One thing to be aware of is that some heaters can give off deadly carbon monoxide if used improperly, so make sure you read the instructions for your device.  Read here for more info about carbon monoxide safety instructions.

Heating With Wood
Heating with wood is an excellent way to stay warm during the winter months and if the power goes out it won’t affect you at all.  You can cook on most woodstoves as well, so you probably won’t even have to get your camp stove out.
Old school cooking. Do you have a stove like this?
My parents used wood heat during the years I lived with them and many more after I moved out.  I can still remember my dad waking my brother and I up early on fall mornings, pointing out the window at  two cords of wood and saying, “I want that pile to be a memory by this afternoon.”  That’s something I’d like to pass on to my son because those kinds of lessons are what helped me out the most when I went into the Marine Corps, but that’s a different topic.

Anyway, wood heat can be a lot of work, which I’ll discuss in a bit, but it’s extremely worthwhile if you have the means to do it.
Pellet Stoves
When Mrs Jarhead and I moved into our new house a few years ago there was a pellet stove already in place.  I’d never used one before and at first I didn’t care for it, but after the first winter changed my mind and decided that it’s a great piece of equipment.  Our stove holds about 80 lbs of pellets and when we fill it up it’ll run a couple of days before needing to be refilled.  It only needs to be cleaned about once a week and best of all, the pellets come in 40 lb bags.  We keep about six bags in the closet next to the stove with the main storage area for the bags in the basement.
Last summer we bought two tons of pellets when they were on sale for around $215 per ton (that includes delivery), which should last us most of this season.
Pros –

  • It’s easy to adjust the feed rate and blower fan to give different levels of heat depending on how cold it gets
  • Easy to feed the stove (you need to be able to lift a 40 lb bag)
  • Only have to feed the stove once or twice every two days
  • Fairly low maintenance.
  • Runs on electricity, but will run off a generator (I’ve had power outages and tested it)
One last note about a pellet stove – you can’t convert it to a wood stove.  Oh, I suppose you could with enough time and money, but when I saw it I thought, “Oh wow.  If the power goes out I’ll convert it to burn wood.”  Nope.  They are two different animals.

Best Bet for Long Term SHTF Scenario
In a long enough SHTF scenario fuel for everything will eventually run out if there is no resupply.  Your best bet is a woodstove in a well insulated house with plenty of warm clothing on hand for when the fire goes out.
Getting Your Own Wood
Cutting firewood is hard.  Cutting firewood with a crosscut saw or a big bucksaw is harder, which would be a necessity if there’s no fuel to run your chainsaw.  I know it’s harder because I’ve done it.  You will need to be in good shape if you intend to do this and I highly recommend you give it a try so you’ll know just how hard it is.

This is what getting your own wood consists of:
  • Go to the forest and find suitable trees for cutting:  standing dead hardwood trees are your best bet.  Trees that have been lying on the ground for any length of time rot quickly
  • Cut the tree down.  Cut into 4’ or 8’ for lengths for transporting unless you have a horse or something to twitch it out with
  • Somehow transport them back to your yard
  • Cut tree into stove lengths (12 to 16 inches usually)
  • Get out your trusty axe or splitting mall and split wood into a manageable size for your stove
  • Stack and cover the wood so that it will remain dry until you need it
  • Carry wood into the house when ready to burn and put it in your wood box
If you think that sounds hard that’s because it is.  Now try it in the winter when there’s 18” of snow on the ground.  I’ve done that too and let me assure you that if you’re not in good shape it will likely give you a heart attack.  It’s best to have your wood supply laid in early if possible.
I’ll end here before this becomes the never-ending post.  This is one of those topics I could go on forever about, but instead of doing that I’ll let you chime in with your ideas for staying warm in winter after TSHTF.  C’mon, I know you have some ideas.

Let’s hear them in the comments.
-Jarhead Survivor



Hey Preppers,

Accumulating medications for a possible collapse may be simple when it comes to getting Ibuprofen and other non-prescription drugs. It will be a major issue, however, for those who need to stockpile prescription medicines but don’t have a relationship with a physician who can or will accommodate their requests. Antibiotics are one example of medications that will be very useful in a collapse situation that (you would think) are difficult to obtain in quantity.

The inability to store antibiotic supplies is going to cost some their lives in a collapse situation.  Why?  Well, there will be a much larger incidence of infection when people have to fend for themselves and are injured as a result.  Simple chores in a power-down situation that most of us aren’t accustomed to performing, like chopping wood, will cause various cuts and scratches. These injuries can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat and swelling, within a relatively short time.   Treatment of such infections, called “cellulitis”, at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists are most likely to “tough it out” until their condition worsens and spreads to their blood.  This causes a condition known as sepsis; fever ensues as well as other problems that could eventually be life-threatening.  The availability of antibiotics would allow the possibility of dealing with the issue safely and effectively.
The following advice is contrary to standard medical practice, and is a strategy that is appropriate only in the event of societal collapse.  If there are modern medical resources available to you, seek them out.
Small amounts of medications can be obtained by anyone willing to tell their doctor that they are going out of the country and would like to avoid “Travelers’ Diarrhea”.  Ask them for Tamiflu for viral illness before every flu season, and Amoxicillin, Doxycycline and Flagyl for bacterial/protozoal disease.   This approach is fine for one or two courses of therapy, but a long term alternative is required for us to have enough antibiotics to protect a family or survival group. Thinking long and hard for a solution has led me to what I believe is the best option for the preparedness community:  Aquarium antibiotics.  

For many years, I was a tropical fish enthusiast.  Currently, I am growing Tilapia as a food fish in my aquaculture pond.  After years of using these medicines on fish, I decided to evaluate these drugs for their potential use in collapse situations. A close inspection of the bottles revealed that the only ingredient was the drug itself, identical to those obtained by prescription at the local pharmacy.  If the bottle says FISH-MOX, for example, the sole ingredient is Amoxicillin, which is an antibiotic commonly used in humans.  There are no additional chemicals to makes your scales shiny or your fins longer.  Here is a list of the products that I believe will be beneficial to have as supplies:

FISH-MOX  (Amoxicillin 250mg)
FISH_MOX FORTE  (Amoxicillin 500mg)
FISH-CILLIN  (Ampicillin 250mg)
FISH-FLEX  (Keflex 250mg)
FISH-FLEX FORTE (Keflex 500mg)
FISH-ZOLE (Metronidazole 250mg)
FISH-PEN (Penicillin 250mg)
FISH-PEN FORTE (Penicillin 500mg)

BIRD BIOTIC (Doxycycline 100mg) – used in birds but the antibiotic is, again, the sole ingredient

I understand that you might be skeptical about considering the use of aquarium antibiotics for humans in a collapse.  Those things are for fish, aren’t they?  If this is purely the case, then why are all of the above antibiotics also commonly used on humans?  More importantly:  Why are these antibiotics in the exact same DOSAGES that are used in humans?  Why would a guppy require a dosage of FISH-MOX FORTE that would suffice for a 180 pound human adult?  It is my opinion that they are manufactured in the same way that “human” antibiotics are made; I don’t have proof, but perhaps they even come from similar batches.

These medications are available without a prescription in lots of 30 -100 tablets for less than the same prescription medication at the local pharmacy. If you so desired, it appears that you could get as much as you need to stockpile for a collapse.  This would be close to impossible to obtain from your physician.  Of course, anyone could be allergic to one or another of these antibiotics, but not all of them. There is a 10% chance for cross-reactivity between Penicillin drugs and Keflex (if you are allergic to penicillin, you could also be allergic to Keflex).  I have removed FISH-CYCLINE (Tetracycline) from this list due to lingering concerns on the part of some about its use, once expired. There were some reports in the 1960s about kidney damage after expiration (the formulation has changed since then).  This one additional fact:  I have personally used some (not all) of these antibiotics on my own person without any ill effects.  It’s important to note that I am speaking primarily about aquarium antibiotics, as some dog and cat medications also include other chemicals and are not just the antibiotic. 
These antibiotics are used at specific doses for specific illnesses; the exact dosage of each and every medication is beyond the scope of this handbook. Suffice it to say that most penicillin and cephalosporin meds are taken at 500mg dosages 3-4 times a day for adults, (250mg dosages for children), whereas Metronidazole (250mg) and Doxycycline (100mg) are taken twice a day. It’s important to have as much information on medications that you plan to store for times of trouble, so consider purchasing a hard copy of the latest Physician’s Desk Reference. This book comes out yearly and has just about every bit of information that exists on a particular medication, including those that do not require prescription.  Indications, dosage, risks and side effects are all listed.

If we ever find ourselves without modern medical care, we will have to improvise medical strategies that we perhaps might be reluctant to consider today.   Without hospitals, it will be up to the medic to nip infections in the bud. That responsibility will be difficult to carry out without the weapons to fight disease, such as antibiotics.  Alternative therapies should be looked at carefully as well.  Honey and garlic have known antibacterial actions, as do a number of herbs and essential oils.  Some swear by the action of colloidal silver.  Be sure to integrate all medical options, traditional and alternative, and use every tool at your disposal to keep your community healthy.  If you don’t, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

 Dr. Bones