I will admit that over the last month or so I have not had preparedness on the forefront of my mind. I was enjoying the fall days and busying myself with small things like trapping animals for my mother-in-law and reviewing old articles on prepping. Last Sunday my wife and I sat watching the news and saw the tons of snow that was dumped on New England and my wife turned to me and stated she sure was glad that didn’t happen here. It sort of jotted me that indeed it could happen here and I had not set up several of my back up plans for staying warm in a power outage.
I have written several times in the past about the PACE system for preparedness. I first heard it referred to as PACE over on Joe’s Viking Preparedness blog which for some sad reason he seems to have burned out on and no longer posts. Anyway, PACE is an acronym for Primary, Alternate, Contingent, and Emergency. It is a layers system of plans for any part of an operation. It was refined by Special Forces but has been around in many forms for years. Our family had the “One’s good, two’s better and Three’s is about right” plan for as long as I can remember.
A couple quick examples would be lighting, Primary, throw the switch, Alternate, propane lantern, Contingent, kerosene lantern, and Emergency, candles. For water you plan might run something like, draw from well, used stored bottle water, filter rain water, and boil any water you can find. I think that gives you the idea.
Since I live in Michigan and it gets a mite chilly from time to time I have in place a PACE system for heating. Now, this is not the plan I want to eventually have, but it is the one I have now. Like many of you, I dream of the day I can pick up a good woodburning stove that will heat and let me cook on it. Until that day arrives that is not an option and my plans need to reflect my reality.
My primary heat is my furnace which runs on propane. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to pre-pay for our propane the last few winters so we can count on it being full most of the time. If we lose power for a long term reason I have a generator I can hook up to the power and make sure the furnace works.
My alternate heat is still the propane, but what will happen is my wife, myself, and the dogs will cocoon down to the family room and heat it with the gas fireplace. It keeps that room warm and we can stay in there for most of the time we need to. Our kitchen is in the opposite corner of the fireplace and if it gets real cold in there we can turn the burners of the stove on and heat both corners making the room nice and toasty.
Years ago when we lived in the city my wife and I heated the house with kerosene. We found it kept the place nice and warm and since we bought kerosene as we used it the large heating bill from the gas company never showed up. We kept that heater and that is our Contingency plan for keeping warm. To be honest with you, right now my kerosene stores are way down and we would not be able to heat for a long period of time before we drop to our Emergency plan. We have not replaced the kerosene we used while deer hunting the last few years because I keep waiting for the price to come down. When we lived in the city K-1 kerosene was just under $2 a gallon. It is now double that and I keep hoping it will come down. Tonto and I have several places we check the price on and share the info. Now that I have my gas storage completed I hope to at least buy several more can full’s of K-1 for the future.
As an aside, several years ago I stopped at an Amish farm and asked the folks how much kerosene they used in a years time. The guy told me that they used about a hundred gallons for lighting and cooking. They use a kerosene stove during the summer for cooking on. They do not heat with kerosene so you can guess that you would need several hundred gallons stored away for heating and lighting.
Our gas fireplace can be converted to a wood burning fireplace with an hour’s work and a few tools. Once I fill the heater with the last gallon of kerosene I will be converting the fireplace over and we will then be heating with out Emergency plan.
As a guy I work with once told me, “It is easier to get warm than it is to get cool”. Staying warm in the dead of winter can be easier than cooling off in the ninety degree heat of summer. If you come into a room from the outside when it is well below freezing even a 50 degree room is warm.
I am sure that you have heard that the experts have all predicted that this will be a really bad winter with lots of cold and snow. If they are correct than now is the time to make sure you have some alternate plans for staying warm.
***Editors note*** As noted by some of our commentors, you should be extremely careful when heating with fuels such as propane and kerosene. Make sure you heat with a proper device, have adequate ventilation in your home, such as an open window, and maintain a working carbon monoxide detector.