When we start talking about natural disasters, most people think of the biggies: hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis. Those are the ones which give people fear, and rightly so, because they claim a lot of lives and do a huge amount of damage. But there is a much more common natural disaster; one which millions of people face, each and every year… it’s called winter.
Actually, it’s winter storms and cold that are the problem. Every year we hear of people who die in the wintertime, literally freezing to death. Often, this is caused by some winter storm knocking down power lines, so that the people who die don’t have heat in their homes. This is especially risky for the elderly on fixed incomes, as they often have underlying health issues and may not be eating all that well.
A heavy winter storm does a number of things, when it rolls in:
- Makes travel more difficult, if not nearly impossible. People can end up forced to live on what they have in their homes.
- Can knock down power lines, cutting power to neighborhoods or whole regions. It is harder for repair crews to get to the places where the damage occurred and harder to make the repairs in a storm. So people can end up without power for longer periods of time.
- Can disrupt communications for the same reason that it knocks down power lines. But even cell phones can be less reliable, as the storm can interfere with radio waves.
- The above-mentioned problems can cause store closures, making it harder to replenish supplies, even if you can get out.
- Freeze pipes, leaving people without water.
- Cause damage to homes, especially roofs.
- Cause tree branches to break and fall; sometimes on the roofs of houses, causing damage.
This may not seem like enough to cause people to find themselves in a survival situation, but it is. Ever since the beginning of time, mankind has had to prepare for the coming of winter, so as to be able to survive through that time. people who didn’t have enough food stored up to see them through the winter months would often die, serving as a grim warning to everyone else.
The Supplies You Need
The whole planting and harvest cycle is based upon stockpiling enough food to make it through the next winter. Methods of food preservation were also developed to meet this same need. Those who had a good harvest and were successful in preserving their harvest had nothing to worry about during the cold winter months. This led to the development of agricultural technology and ultimately to the beginning of the industrial age.
Today, we depend on a vast infrastructure and supply system to bring us the things that our ancestors had to provide for themselves. Yet, as we discussed above, a good storm can put an end to all that, if only for a short while. The loss of power, water and sources of supply that a winter storm can bring, can put us in a worse condition than our ancestors.
The solution is to be ready to survive for several days, without the need of that infrastructure and those sources of supply. This is actually easier than one would expect. At the most basic level, we need heat, water and food to survive. This can be provided through a pre-packed emergency kit.
Keeping Yourself Warm
Keep in mind that you are going to need some source of heat during these storms. The easiest way to provide yourself with heat, if the power is out and you don’t have a fireplace, is with a barbecue grille. While manufacturers will tell you not to use these indoors, you can, as long as you have a fireproof floor to set it on and enough air circulation to ensure that you don’t pass out from oxygen deprivation.
Please note that sufficient air circulation is critical in this case. People die from carbon monoxide poisoning, when they have an open fire inside their homes, without proper circulation. That’s why manufacturers of barbecue grilles tell you not to use them indoors. As an added precaution, it would be a good idea to have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in the room with the grille. That will warn you before levels of CO get dangerous enough to cause you problems.
Of course, this means that you’re going to have a good stockpile of fuel to keep your grille working. This can be charcoal, gas or just plain firewood, depending on your grille and what you have access to. just make sure you have enough, as well as the means to start it burning.
If you’re forced to depend on such a heat source, you want to limit the area you are trying to heat to one room. Gather everyone there and block off access to the rest of the house, hanging blankets over doorways if necessary. Use coats and blankets to help keep warm, as well, as your bodies will be producing heat. If you can keep that heat in, rather than radiating it out into the air, it is even more effective than trying to heat a room.