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Summer or Winter Shelter Basics Part One

Friday 31st January 2014

Summer or Winter Shelter Basics Part One

(see parts two and three)

I am sure you will agree that you cannot guarantee the timing of the next emergency. Will it be hot out or cold? Will there be too much moisture or not enough. Will we have to contend with the loss of shelter or some forms of energy that heat and cool our homes? We don't know. We can't know. So, what do we do? How can we prepare for the unexpected? Simple, learn a little about as many critcal life sustaining skills as possible.

Shelter is required in any weather to keep you warm, cool, dry or protected from many aspects of the environment. Clothing is your first line of defense, including multiple layers, wind and water proof ponchos, hats, boots, whatever. But once that is no longer sufficient you need to create sufficient shelter from a simple blanket or tarp. Or, if you are still in a building, defining a smaller space to control the temperature, air flow, possible contamination and so on. The simplest way to do this is to have a free standing tent that you can erect in the main room you want to call home for the time being. It must be free standing, meaning no stakes or guy ropes are required.

When you are no longer able to inhabit your dwelling, you must be ready to erect some kind of shelter outside to provide protection from the weather as well as maintain some semblance of privacy. Each person defines these and many other things differently. But shelter may not be enough. When it is hot, you need good air circulation to prevent overheating. Simple shade is often enough. But when it is cold, you need to take special care to prevent freezing. Just remember, too much heat or cold can result in death. So, when the temperature is too cold to tolerate without a source of heat beyond your own body heat, what can you do? Most fossil fuels put off carbon monoxide when burned. This makes them totally unuseable indoors because they will kill you. Natural and propane gas as well as kerosene can be used indoors when you take the proper precautions.

If you have a gas stove you are warned not to try to heat your house with that appliance. Yet, you cook with it and it is providing some heat then with the same fumes being put off. The difference between cooking and heating falls mostly in the length of time each process is in use. Both processes use up oxygen but when cooking it is usually for a short enough duration or in short spurts to maintain a certain oven temperature for example, that natural air exchange in a building takes care of replacing the oxygen.

When you turn on some appliance for heating, it is often left on for hours at a time. This means you must open a door or window to allow fresh oxygen in to replace what is being consumed by the burning of fuel. This has nothing to do with carbon monoxide because natural gas and kerosene do not emit carbon monoxide. If you are going to heat an indoor area for very long, open two windows on opposite sides of the house, put a rolled up towel in the opening of each window and close the window against the towel. As long as you have not made the towel too thick, it will allow a small amount of air exchange to take place, replacing oxygen used by the appliance without allowing too much cold to overcome the heat your are generating. WARNING: BE CAREFUL! You and you alone are responsible for your safety. 

(see parts two and three)

About the author: Jim Higgins

Jim Higgins