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How To Heat Your Home During A Power Outage

Recent ice storms, such as the one that hit Kentucky in January of 2009 caught many people who had all electric homes unprepared. There are a few ways to heat your home in an emergency.  A wood stove or fireplace is an obvious way to heat a home in case of emergency but this article deals with homes that do not have either one.

How To Heat Your Home In An Emergency With Kerosene Heaters

Portable Kerosene heaters remain one of the most popular ways to provide emergency home heat. Most modern kerosene heaters are safe, provided you keep a window cracked to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Newer models have an automatic shutoff system in case the heater is tipped over. The disadvantages of kerosene heaters are that you must keep enough kerosene on hand, and kerosene can be hard to find at times. There is some slight odor to kerosene heaters, mostly when they are extinguished. The advantages are a high BTU output. Floor standing kerosene heaters can put out 20,000 BTU or more, enough to keep a modest sized home warm. You will have to add kerosene every few hours and keep a supply of kerosene on hand.

Emergency Kerosene heater   click on the photo for more info.

Portable Propane Heaters  For Emergency Heat

Portable propane heaters are another good option for emergency home heating. The advantage of propane heaters for emergency heat is that propane is easily stored, and you may already have a tank for a portable BBQ on hand. Propane is widely available, clean burning with not much odor, and relatively safe. Since portable propane heaters are un-vented you must crack a window. It is recommended that when using a 20 pound bottle you place it outside. Extension hoses are available that you can run through a window or door to the propane tank outside. Portable propane heaters are designed for temporary use, not full time heating. A portable propane heater such as the "Mr. Heater, Buddy model" puts out 9000 BTU, which is enough to heat a medium sized room. That is about 3000 BTU more than what an electric space heater produces.

Portable Propane Heater    click on the photo for more info

Other Options For Emergency Heating In A Home

For temporary emergency heat in a home you can use a number of candles. You can add heat to a very small room, such as a bathroom using wax candles. A dozen large candles will give off about 2000 BTU's of heat, about a third of an electric space heater. Use the same caution as a regular ventless heater and keep a source of fresh air coming into the room, although it does not need to be very much.

If you are in an apartment or hotel, where gas fired hot water is supplied to rooms, but the rooms are heated with electricity, you can run the hot water in a shower to add heat to a room. Plug up the tub, adjust the spray to fine and reduce the flow, and let the water flow out of the overflow. Keep an eye on it to avoid flooding.

Cooking stoves are not recommended as emergency  heat sources but if you are careful you may use a top burner or oven on 300 degrees, for a limited amount of time to add emergency heat to your home. Keep a window cracked and keep kids away from hot surfaces.

Never use charcoal or any kind of open wood fire inside the home for emergency heating. Many people have died of suffocation from carbon monoxide in this manner. Bundle up, close off the rest of your house and put towels or rugs against the cracks under inside doors. Close room to room vents to keep warm air in one main room. Open outside doors as little as possible.

A carbon monoxide detector is a very good idea for all times but especially if you are using a portable propane or portable kerosene heater for emergency heat. They are inexpensive and could save your life. Be cautious of carbon monoxide dangers at all times when using any kind of temporary emergency heat.

Keep as many layers of clothing on as possible and stay next to each other under blankets. If you do not have any kind of emergency heat consider setting up a tent in the living room and covering it with blankets or comforters and all getting inside. Never use any kind of  portable propane or kerosene heater or even candles inside a tent.

More Thoughts On Emergency Home Heating Methods

Many homes with gas or oil fired heaters need electricity to make the pilot light or fan work. In order to use your gas heater during a power outage you need a backup generator. Have an electrician come and add a bypass switch and connection for a portable generator. A generator of at least 5 KW can also power some other circuits, including a fridge and lights, but will not likely power your whole house. Expect to spend at least $3000 on a generator plus the bypass box and electricians fees. Consider an electric start model if you have any physical limitations and always keep generators far from any widows or openings into the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. A Portable kerosene heater or portable propane heater is a good solution in the meantime if you cannot afford a generator.





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