Food Storage Do-Over Week 16: Shelter/Heating/Cooling

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We are excited to be starting week 16 of our Food Storage Do-Over 2015! We are getting close to the end of this adventure. If you didn’t catch last week’s post which talked about Powerless Cooking you can see it here.

Remember this is a 17 week process that we will be going through together. If you want to join in with the group on Facebook click here. If you’d like to receive email notifications of each week’s do-over assignment you can join our mailing list here. Or you can always post in the blog comments with your progress as well! It is so much more fun and motivating doing it as a group so find a way to connect!


Emergency preparedness is a very broad topic. This week we are going to be looking at our plans for shelter as well as for keeping cool or warm in an emergency. As with most preparedness topics, it’s best to start small and it least get SOMETHING, and then work towards larger longer-term solutions.


Many families have some sort of camping supplies on hand already. These will be great to use in emergency situations too. Here are some things to consider and tasks to do this week to get your shelter preps started for evacuation purposes.

  • Inventory any camping supplies you already have on hand.
  • Put all shelter supplies in one large container or at least in one specific area of the garage.
  • At a minimum store some tarps and ropes to make basic shelters.
  • Save up for or purchase a high-quality all-season tent that is rated for +2 more people than your full family size. This will give you room to store supplies inside your tent and not be too squished.
  • Have a 0 degree sleeping bag for each family member. If you have room, also store a lighter-weight sleeping bag or blankets for summertime emergencies.
  • If you have space, consider also storing cots, air mattresses, foam pads, etc. to add to your comfort levels.
  • Store supplies to help you set up your shelter such as a hammer to stake down the tent, lanterns or flashlights to help set it up in the dark, basic fire-starting materials, etc.

Keeping Warm

One of the biggest safety concerns in an emergency is freezing. Whether you are evacuating or sheltering in your home, it will get VERY cold in the middle of winter in most areas, and you’ll need to be prepared. Here are some short-term tips and supplies you could get that can help.

  • Wear dry clothing, preferably made of wool. Wool clothing is insulating, water resistant, and keeps your body warm even if it is wet.
  • Wear a (wool) hat and gloves. You can lose up to 80% of your body heat through your head.
  • Wear insulated boots or shoes. You can also wear two pairs of wool socks or wrap a towel around the outside of your shoes to keep warmth in.
  • Wear layered clothing.
  • Wrap a scarf or towel around mouth to keep cold air from your lungs.
  • Share sleeping bags. Two people inside one large sleeping bag or two bags zipped together will be warmer.
  • Use your car heater if trapped in your car during a snowstorm. Run the heater 10 minutes every hour. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow and open one window a crack to allow ventilation.
  • Use mylar blankets or emergency blankets. Use a wool blanket between you and the mylar blanket if possible.
  • Store lots of hand warmers, survival candles, etc.
  • Wear thermal undergarments.
  • Insulate your clothing. Use leaves, newspapers, straw, etc. stuffed between layers of your clothing. If necessary use a plastic bag over top to hold the insulation materials.

If it is a long-term emergency, your best bet will be to get some sort of wood-burning stove or heater in your home to provide considerable warmth at least in one area of the house. If you have a generator you could also get electric heaters and use them as long as you have fuel.

Keeping Cool

While staying cool is more of a convenience, there are some safety real concerns with heat stroke and dehydration if you get too hot. Here are 50 ideas you can use to keep a little cooler when you don’t have access to air conditioner.

  1. Wear light-colored clothing, dark clothes absorb heat
  2. Use a damp cloth to wet face, arms and legs
  3. Find a cool breeze to sit in (especially after getting wet)
  4. Make a paper fan and fan yourself
  5. Hang out in the basement of your home
  6. Install attic vents to release the hot air that rises
  7. Sleep on the porch between wet sheets
  8. Relax during the hottest hours, do heavy chores/cooking in the morning and evening
  9. Do your canning and cooking outdoors
  10. Take an afternoon nap
  11. Use a buckwheat pillow, it won’t hold on to your body heat
  12. Close all blinds and window coverings (don’t let the sun in)
  13. Open all the windows at night to let cool air in
  14. Lie down on the floor in the lowest level of your house
  15. Keep a window open upstairs to pull hot air up and out
  16. Wet your hair
  17. Put white sheets over furniture, it will reflect heat instead of absorb it
  18. Wrap a wet towel around your neck
  19. Plant or find shade trees
  20. Take cool baths
  21. Make sure your home is well insulated, it will keep the heat out
  22. Drink lots of fluids
  23. Use a spray bottle and spray yourself down
  24. Hang wet sheets in open windows that have a cross breeze
  25. Keep babies in a light onesie (not naked) for when you hold them
  26. Dip feet in cool water
  27. Keep your body covered (in cool clothes) to shade it from the sun
  28. Don’t wear polyester, it makes you sweat
  29. Sit still, moving around makes you hotter
  30. Make recipes using mint/peppermint to cool the body
  31. Brush mint against the skin to cool you down
  32. Wear loose-fitting skirts
  33. Use battery-powered fans (like these ones)
  34. Put wet rags over a batter powered fan to make a “swamp cooler”
  35. Give the kids squirt guns and have a water fight
  36. Buy some evaporative cooling bandanas. These look so neat!
  37. Eat cold meals
  38. Eat spicy foods, they increase perspiration which cools down the body
  39. Buy some cooling towels/cloths
  40. Wear a large-brimmed hat to shade your face
  41. Spray your house down with a water hose for a temporary cool down
  42. Keep ice packs in your freezer and then use them for relief
  43. Go around naked (if appropriate)
  44. Use silk or satin sheets and pillowcases, they feel cooler
  45. Hang up bedding in cool areas of the house or shade during the day
  46. Get a waterbed, it will absorb heat and feel cool on hot nights
  47. Build porch awnings to provide shade
  48. Have a generator to plug in electric fans
  49. Make a homemade air conditioner or swamp cooler if you have a generator

Don’t forget to come over and share your progress in our Food Storage Do-Over Facebook Group!

If you are an emergency preparedness veteran you probably already have a lot of supplies on hand for sheltering and for keeping cool or warm as the seasons adjust. Your task this week will be to look at your inventory levels and also to make a plan to PRACTICE so you can determine what you are doing well on and what might still be lacking.

Tasks for this week

  • INVENTORY your shelter supplies. Is your tent big enough? Is it an all-season tent? Do you have enough sleeping bags for ALL family members? Are they low temperature sleeping bags?
  • PRACTICE setting up your tent. If one spouse usually does it, have the other spouse try to do it alone. Do you have all the tools on hand to set it up? Could you do it in the dark?
  • PURCHASE any items needed to round out your “shelter” plans.
  • Are you prepared to shelter in place? Print out some guidelines for safety precautions to take based on potential emergencies that could occur in your area (i.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.)
  • INVENTORY your supplies for staying warm. What do you have on hand for evacuating versus staying home?
  • PRACTICE! Plan a camping trip for next winter where you go and live outside for several days. Try turning off the furnace for a few days this winter and see how well you can stay warm.
  • PURCHASE any items needed to round out your “keeping warm” supplies.
  • INVENTORY your supplies for staying cool. What do you have that will work for evacuating? What will you do if you are staying at home?
  • PRACTICE! Turn off the AC for a few days and see how will you do in the heat. Get your kids involved and think creatively on ways to keep cool.
  • PURCHASE any items needed to round out your “keeping cool” supplies.

Don’t forget to come over and share your progress in our Food Storage Do-Over Facebook Group!

All-Season Tents: Pick a tent that fits your family’s needs and price range. There are many options to choose from. Camping stores have a lot, but we love Amazon for good camping supplies too.
Hand Warmers: Always a great little addition to your disaster kits, evacuation kits, and even to keep on hand at home. You can never have too many of these little things around.
Evaporative Cooling Headband: These headbands work by running them under water to activate the cooling properties. They are reusable and can make a huge difference in your temperature if you are out in the hot sun for extended periods of time.

Here are some resources both from us and all over the web that can help you if you want more depth on any areas or are looking for even more ideas of items to include in your plans. It’s always a good idea to look at multiple approaches and decide what will work best for you! And don’t forget to check out the discussions on our facebook group to catch anything we are missing or see what others are doing!

How to Make an Emergency Heater – from MomPrepares
How to Make a Coffee Can Heater – from Food Storage Made Easy
Homemade Space Heater that Works – from Your Own Home Store
DIY Solar Powered Air Cooler – from Survival Life

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