Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking, Heating, and Lighting In An Emergency

How will you cook, heat and have light in an emergency situation?

In an emergency situation there may be no electricity or gas to heat our homes, give us light at night and the ability to cook. Our homes may also be uninhabitable, causing us to seek shelter outside or elsewhere. Here are some ideas for heating, lighting and cooking in this type of emergency.


Conserving fuel:

1. To conserve your cooking fuel storage needs, always do your emergency cooking in the most efficient manner possible.

2. Don’t boil more water than you need, extinguish the fire as soon as you finished, plan your meals ahead of time to consolidate as much cooking as possible, during the winter cook on top of your heating unit while heating your home, and cook in a pressure cooker or other fuel efficient container as much as possible.

3. Keep enough fuel to provide outdoor cooking for at least 7-10 days, possible more.

Types of cooking products/equipment and heating:

1. Pressure cooker-To conserve your cooking fuel storage needs always do your emergency cooking in the most efficient manner possible. Don’t boil more water than you need, extinguish the fire as soon as you finished, plan your meals ahead of time to consolidate as much cooking as possible, during the winter cook on top of your heating unit while heating your home, and cook in a pressure cooker or other fuel efficient container as much as possible. Keep enough fuel to provide outdoor cooking for at least 7-10 days.

2. Matches-Store matches in a waterproof airtight tin with each piece of equipment that must be lit with a flame. You can purchase waterproof/windproof matches from a survival surplus or camping stores or online.
3. Sterno-Sterno Fuel a jellied petroleum product, is an excellent source of fuel for inclusion in your back pack as part of your 72 hour kit. Sterno is very light weight and easily ignited with a match or a spark from flint and steel but is not explosive. It is also safe for use indoors.

4. Sterno Stove-A Sterno Stove can be purchased at any sporting goods store and will retail between $3 and $8, depending upon the model you choose. They fold up into a very small, compact unit ideal for carrying in a pack. The fuel is readily available at all sporting goods stores and many drug stores. One can of Sterno fuel, about the diameter of a can of tuna fish and twice as high, will allow you to cook six meals if used frugally. Chafing dishes and fondue pots can also be used with Sterno.

Note: Sterno is not without some problems. It will evaporate very easily, even when the lid is securely fastened. If you use Sterno in your 72 hour kit you should check it every six to eight months to insure that it has not evaporated beyond the point of usage. Because of this problem it is not a good fuel for long-term storage. It is a very expensive fuel to use compared to others fuel available, but is extremely convenient and portable.

4. Coleman fuel (white gas)-When used with a Coleman stove this is another excellent and convenient fuel for cooking. It is not as portable nor as lightweight as Sterno, but produces a much greater BTU value. Like Sterno, Coleman fuel has a tendency to evaporate even when the container is tightly sealed so it is not a good fuel for long-term storage. Unlike Sterno, however, it is highly volatile; it will explode under the right conditions and should therefore never be stored in the home. Because of its highly flammable nature great care should always be exercised when lighting stoves and lanterns that use Coleman fuel. Many serious burns have been caused by carelessness with this product. Always store Coleman fuel in the garage or shed, out of doors.

5. Coleman stove-Can be purchased at any camping or survival surplus store.

6. Portable one burner stove and BU-6 Butane Fuel (can)-This small stove is great for cooking on and stores easily. You can purchased the butane one burner stove and fuel cans at Marukai on Artesia in Gardena for $12.00 and fuel cans for 4 for $5.00 or $1.25 each can. When we bought the butane fuel cans they were about $1 each can, 3-4 come together. You can use this stove in your house, but do not leave unattended. I cooked on this type of stove for 3 months in our dinning room while the kitchen was being remodeled.

7. Charcoal-Charcoal is the least expensive fuel per BTU that the average family can store.

Remember that it must always be used out of doors because of the vast amounts of poisonous carbon monoxide it produces. Charcoal will store for extended period of time if it is stored in air tight containers. It readily absorbs moisture from the surrounding air so do not store it in the paper bags it comes in for more than a few months or it may be difficult to light. Transfer it to airtight metal or plastic containers and it will keep almost forever.

Fifty or sixty dollars worth of charcoal will provide all the cooking fuel a family will need for an entire year if used sparingly. The best time to buy briquettes inexpensively is at the end of the summer. Broken or torn bags of briquettes are usually sold at a big discount. You will also want to store a small amount of charcoal lighter fluid (or kerosene). Newspapers will also provide an excellent ignition source for charcoal when used in a funnel type of lighting device.

You can purchase charcoal briquettes that all you have to do is light them, they are soaked in lighter fluid.
To light charcoal using newspapers use two or three sheets, crumpled up, and a #10 tin can. Cut both ends out of the can. Punch holes every two inches around the lower edge of the can with a punch-type can opener (for opening juice cans). Set the can down so the punches holes are on the bottom. Place the crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the can and place the charcoal briquettes on top of the newspaper. Lift the can slightly and light the newspaper. Prop a small rock under the bottom edge of the can to create a a good draft. The briquettes will be ready to use in about 20-30 minutes. When the coals are ready remove the chimney and place them in your cooker. Never place burning charcoal directly on concrete or cement because the heat will crack it. A wheelbarrow or old metal garbage can lid makes an excellent container for this type of fire.

One of the nice things about charcoal is that you can regulate the heat you will receive from them. Each briquette will produce about 40 degrees of heat. If you are baking bread, for example, and need 400 degrees of heat for your oven, simply use ten briquettes.

To conserve heat and thereby get the maximum heat value from your charcoal you must learn to funnel the heat where you want it rather than letting it dissipate into the air around you. One excellent way to do this is to cook inside a cardboard oven. Take a cardboard box, about the size of an orange crate, and cover it with aluminum foil inside and out. Be sure that the shiny side is visible so that maximum reflectivity is achieved. Turn the box on its side so that the opening is no longer on the top but is on the side. Place some small bricks or other noncombustible material inside upon which you can rest a cookie sheet about two or three inches above the bottom of the box. Place ten burning charcoal briquettes between the bricks (if you need 400 degrees), place the support for your cooking vessels, and then place your bread pans or whatever else you are using on top of the cookie sheet. Prop a foil-covered cardboard lid over the open side, leaving a large crack for air to get in (charcoal needs a lot of air to burn) and bake your bread, cake, cookies, etc. just like you would in your regular oven. Your results will amaze you.

To make your own charcoal, select twigs, limbs, and branches of fruit, nut and other hardwood trees; black walnuts and peach or apricot pits may also be used. Cut wood into desired size, place in a large can which has a few holes punched in it, put a lid on the can and place the can in a hot fire. When the flames from the holes in the can turn yellow-red, remove the can from the fire and allow it to cool. Store the briquettes in a moisture-proof container. Burn charcoal only in a well-ventilated area.

Note: Items above (1,2,3,4,5,7) came from "Homeland Security News"

8. Dutch Ovens-our ancestors used Dutch Ovens to cook in. You can cook just about anything in one of them. Get a good cooking booking on cooking with a Dutch Ovens. You can even bake a Cherry Upside Down Cake in them. You just put hot charcoal briquettes on the bottom and the top of the lid and let it cook. I found the best prices at the Majors Surplus store in Gardena, but check around. They can run from $25 -$80, depending on the size and type. I spent $25 for ours on sales at Majors. Check around for sales.

9. Outdoor fire pits-A great way to cook and for heat. You will need to store wood, but make sure you store away from your house and garage because this will cause termites in the structures.

10. Trioxane Fuel Bars- Each bar burns a clean, nontoxic blue flame for 15 minutes. Great for 72 Hour Kits, and camping. Us them to heat up a nice cup of hot chocolate or soup, or start a fire when fuel is otherwise unavailable. They come 3 in a box for about $2.50. I found them on (Emergency Essentials). They also have the waterproof/windproof matches for $2.95 a box. Great site to check out.

11. Portable Outdoor Fireplace. . . Love this idea

What a great idea, and it is portable. Great for emergency preparedness if you cannot cook in your conventional oven in the house. This can be moved around anywhere in your yard. Here's how you construct it:

1) Use standard size cement blocks you can purchase at your local home center
2) Do not use mortar, that way it is portable
3) Recycled grill racks (from an old BBQ)
4) Collect tender and wood for the fire or you can use charcoal in a metal pan
5) Make sure you clear the ground area of all dry foliage and grass
6) Construct as shown in the photo

(Mother Earth News, created by Ronnie Norwood)
Make your own solar oven--easy!

Great in an emergency situation when you cannot use your conventional oven. Yes, it takes longer to cook things, but it really does work and a lot less expensive than the more popular solar oven that can cost from $250-$400.

Supplies needed:

A reflective accordion-folding car sunshade
A cake rack (or wire frame or grill)
12 cm. (4 1/2 inches) of Velcro
Black pot
Bucket or plastic wastebasket
A plastic baking bag

For instructions of how to make your own solar oven and how to use it click here.  

1. In the house-If you are able to stay in your house and it is cold outside, keep all windows and doors shut and keep them insulated. Shut all blinds and curtains to keep the cold out. Do not sue charcoal BBQ to heat your house inside, this will cause death (See charcoal above).

2. Outside-Use your outdoor fire pit or clear a safe area to build a wood fire. Make sure the fire is out before leaving it. Never leave an open fire unattended. Space blankets will keep you warm, keep them in your 72 Hour Kits and car.

3. Fireplaces: A great source of heat in your home. Make sure to maintain your fireplaces so they work properly. Keep extra wood on hand but stored away from any structures to avoid termite damage. You can make logs by rolling newspaper and magazines very tightly and tying with a string.

Lighting: (Most of the alternatives require a fire or flame, so use caution.)

1. Candles-Keep a large supply of candles and several candle holders in your emergency supplies along with waterproof/windproof matches. Keep the matches in a separate tin container/can. White or light colored candles burn brighter than dark candles. Caution: Candles are extremely dangerous indoors because of the high fire danger, especially around children. Do not leave a burring candle unattended. DO NOT light if you smell a gas leak or suspect one.

2. Flashlights-Keep a flashlight in each room near the bed in case the lights are out. Keep one in your car, a small one in your purse and one in your desk at work. I had a friend you was in an earthquake several years ago while at work. All the lights were out and she could not see anything. She had to crawl out of the office and building over objects that cut her legs and hands. Keep extra batteries with the flashlights. Keep batteries in the freezer to prolong their time.

Batteries: Alkaline batteries are the best. Store them in a cool location and in an airtight container. These batteries should be expected to store for three to five years. Check the expiration date on the batteries or mark with a date it not there. The problem with batteries is that they run down fast during use. Lithium batteries will store for about twice as long as alkaline batteries (about ten years).

3. Cyalume Sticks (light sticks)-Keep light sticks between your mattress and the box spring, in your purse, at work in your desk, in your car to help you see in the dark in the event of an earthquake or loss of electricity. These are the safest form of indoor lighting available. They can be purchased at most sporting/camping goods stores and survival surplus stores, very inexpensively. They are a plastic stick about four inches in length and a half inch in diameter. To activate them, simply bend them until the glass tube inside them breaks, then shake to mixed the chemicals inside and it will glow a bright green light for up to eight hours.

4. Propane, Coleman Lanterns and Battery Operated Lanterns-Have camping propane, Coleman lanterns, and battery operated lanterns on hand in case you lose your electricity. You can purchase these at camping/sporting stores and survival surplus stores. I bought some really cool battery operated lanterns at Bed, Bath and Beyond on sale for $10 each. Caution should be used in filling and light Coleman lanterns because the fuel is highly volatile and a flash type fire (like turning on a flashlight or regular house light switch if gas might be leaking after an earthquake) is easy to set off. Propane is much safer. It is not as explosive and does not burn quite a hot. A double mantle lantern gives off as much light as two 100-watt light bulbs. Either propane or Coleman fuel type lanterns are very reliable and should be an integral part of your emergency preparedness supplies. Be sure to store plenty of extra mantles and matches. When using fuel type lanterns make sure your home is well ventilated. 

5. Improvised Tent Lamp: Great idea on how to make your own lamp. Click here to see how to make it. 

6. Kerosene lamps: They are an excellent source of light and will burn for approximately 45 hours on a quart of fuel. They burn bright and are inexpensive to use. The main problem with using them is failure to properly trim the wicks and using the wrong size chimney. Wicks should be trimmed in an arch, a "V", an "A" or straight across the top. Failure to properly trim and maintain the wicks will result in smoke and poor light. Be sure to store extra wicks, chimneys and mantles.

7. Generators: Every home should have a generator. You can purchase small portable ones that will keep at least your refrigerator and a couple of lights going. We purchased one on sale at Harbor Freight with a coupon in the paper (they run it often) for about $90. You will need to store gasoline to run the generator. Caution: Only store gasoline in an approved type gasoline container and store from the house in a cool place (not the direct sunlight).

8. Solar Fuel Less Generators: These are great but more expensive. They get their power from solar panels. Best thing about them is they require no gas and you can use them safely inside your home. Check out the website links below for information and three great companies that offer them.

Caution: Above all, your home and family must be protected from fire by your actions. Study and understand the manuals that go along with any type of equipment/appliances used for cooking, heating and lighting. Do not go to sleep with any invented burning device in your home. Your family might not wake up. Whatever you store, store it safely and legally in an emergency, survival may cause you to make decisions that are not in the best regard to safety. Your family's lives depend on you making wise choices and understand the equipment you are using.
Consider carefully how you will provide fuel for your family for cooking, heating and lighting during times of emergency. Next to food, water and shelter, energy is the most important item you can store.

Updated 04/2014

1 comment:

  1. I really like all the information I've been reading thus far. Thanks for putting this altogether for us. This provided a lot of useful information. I appreciate you.