Preparing For Seasonal Considerations Without Heat or AC
Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness
Important for prepping and preparedness are the seasonal extremes and other conditions which I will describe in a minute.
We sure have it made in our modern world of heat and air-conditioning. We can spend most of our time in climate controlled homes, offices, stores that we shop, our vehicles…
But for those who live where it can get really cold or really hot, you better give a bit of thought to what you would do if our modern “lifeblood” were to temporarily go away (electricity).
No heat during the winter? No air-conditioning during the summer?
It could even become life threatening.
It’s all about body core temperature and seasonal considerations. Although ANY season could present issues if you’re not properly prepared for it.
While Level-1 preparedness is intended for disruptions lasting hours, days, or maybe up to a week, it won’t take long for your house to get mighty cold during the winter or really hot during the summer.
The good thing is that this level of preparedness presumes that you could potentially drive out of it. However let’s say you’re stuck at home during a snowstorm and the power goes out? Pretty difficult to drive out of that one… Get the idea?
Staying Warm In The Winter
Again, if the power goes out, so does your furnace. Sure a wood stove would solve that problem, but if you don’t have one, what will you do?
One option that I’ve written about before is a portable propane heater that’s safe for indoor use (with common sense cautions and caveats). It’s the “Heater Buddy”. I have this and actually use it downstairs in the tool room during those extra cold winter days. It’s a great little portable room heater.
Here’s an article on it:
‘Mr. Heater Buddy’ for Winter Survival Preparedness
Here’s another thought: A decent wool or fleece blanket to keep warm:
[ Read: The Warmest Survival Blanket – Wool Or Polar Fleece? ]
Have you thought about winter preps that stay in your vehicle? Since we are so often in our vehicles or it’s accessible to us while at work, it makes it a good place to keep some preps for just in case.
[ Read: Winter Preps To Keep In Your Car ]
Staying Cool In The Summer
Admittedly I do not have lots of experience in HOT weather climates. I live up in the north although it gets darn hot during the summer even up here.
That said, one of the best suggestions I can think of is to STAY HYDRATED. Drink lots of water. It is surprisingly easy to become dehydrated, and it can even lead to dangerous health conditions.
[ Read: Dehydration Symptoms, Prevention ]
Some say that seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Now couple that apparent statistic with a very hot environment with no air-conditioning.
During the summer when it’s extra hot while I am working outside and sweating / dehydrating, I use Vitalyte electrolyte powder and mix with water. This stuff really works.
Vitalyte Natural Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix
(view on amzn)
Here’s an article I wrote awhile ago: Heat Stroke And Avoidance
Other ideas include the following:
Open windows at night and close them in the morning to help keep the cooler air inside. It may seem counter-intuitive but even though it may feel warm in the house, if it’s hotter outside, keep the windows closed.
That said, moving-circulating air is wonderful. It helps evaporate the moisture on your skin and makes you feel cooler. But how do you do that without electricity?
One way is with a battery operated fan. I don’t have this one, but it looks interesting. Easily portable, recharge via USB, and it could be used with one of those USB external battery storage devices for longevity before need for recharge (I do have one of those).
Mini Rechargeable Clip on Table Fan
(view on amzn)
Anker 10000mAh External Battery
The condition of hypothermia can happen not only in the winter but also the summer! Encountering a summer rain and temperature drop while not dressed properly can lead to rapid chilling of the body, shaking, and even hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a life threatening condition in which deep-body core temperature falls below 95°F (normally it’s 98.6°F).
More commonly we hear about it relating to cold weather conditions.
A key to preventing it is to dress in layers. Have outerwear that’s purposed towards the environmental conditions.
[ Read: How To Prevent Frostbite, Hypothermia ]
Again, we are used to our climate controlled environments. But you should consider your options if that went away.
You might consider keeping extra seasonal-related clothing and outwear gear in your vehicle. Even just a sweater or sweatshirt, an extra jacket or raincoat. Extra protection in case you need it.
All I’m saying here is to consider this category (seasonal considerations) even for your Level-1 preparedness.
Think of it with regards to your home environment and dependencies upon electricity. How does it relate to what you keep (or should keep) in your vehicle. Your outdoor adventures or activities can also fall victim to weather extremes.
Your body core temperature can get too HOT and it can get too COLD.
Both conditions can be very dangerous.
[ Read: Preparedness Level 1 – 4 Series Overview ]
I keep an 8” O2 Cool fan by the bedside, as my wife has respiratory problems and doesn’t sleep well without moving air. Mine is 12 volt, will run off wall current, 8 ‘D’ cell batteries, or I can even hook it up to an auto-type battery if I need to, easily. The only problem is, it must have those 8 batteries to sit upright without falling over. It’s only a backup, but it has worked out well for me. I also have a 5” O2 Cool that runs off wall current, an internal rechargeable battery, or 4 ‘D’ batteries. It’s not as versatile, and it also needs the batteries to keep it sitting upright, but I like both fans. Like the saying goes, no business relationship, just a satisfied customer.
– Papa S.
O2 Cool Fan
For cool air, I read about this item to build which is on my “fun projects to do” list.
1. Cut a pice of plywood to fit over a window.
2. Cut the bottoms off plastic water bottles.
3. Cut holes in the plywood the size of the openings of the bottles. Do as many as needed so that the plywood will hold as many bottles as possible.
4. Screw the plywood into the window frame and insert the bottles.
As the air passes through the bottles it is compressed and cools. It might work well in a chicken coop, too, I wouldn’t want to damage house windows until I knew it works sufficiently.
I’m wondering about “is compressed and cools”. Compressing a gas heats the gas. Expansion after compression will cool a gas. That’s the principle behind refrigeration and diesel engines. I’d be interested in hearing about your results if you do try it.
I asked DH and he says,” Another way of looking at it is that heat is removed from a gas to compress it or added to a gas to make it expand. ”
Me? I am just going by the article showing it being used in undeveloped areas to cool their small homes.
Okay. I just searched for the system online and it does seem to be in use in Bangladesh. The system has to be set up with the largest opening to the exterior and would need the prevailing wind direction to impact the cut portion of the bottles. I know they use the term ‘compression’ to describe the operating principle but I believe ‘constriction’ would be more accurate. That constriction increases the velocity of the air which in turn creates a wind chill effect from its increased movement. Its the same principle as a fan. Also by blocking most of the sunlight coming through the opening you’re effectively reducing the amount of energy entering the interior.
“Have you thought about winter preps in your vehicle?” Absolutely. Doing a 120 round trip daily work commute in nasty winter weather I need to protect myself. Bad expressway conditions, wrecks, low visibility, bad drivers, etc… it’s an experience. I carry a bin of winter cloths: boots, heavy socks/gloves, sweater, couple of mid-weight jackets (layers), hats. Also have a wool blanket, insulated space blanket. A vehicle tool bag including a tire plug kit with an air compressor. The vehicle bag has food, water, collapsible candle lantern, hand warmers, emergency radio with medical, tools, fire stuff, shovel, crow bar, lug nut cross wrench, bucket of sand. I think I could camp out in the car for a few days, fortunately the route is trafficked so I would be seen, provided I don’t launch the vehicle into a ravine or the woods, probably should add a flare gun.
I was born and raised in Texas back when air-conditioning was a rarity for anyone other than the very wealthy. Heck, I graduated high school in 1968 and never experienced an air-conditioned class room. The heat was dealt with mainly by how the homes and schools were constructed. Nearly all homes and businesses had 10-12 foot ceilings and double hung windows 9-11 foot tall. Heat rises and collects near the ceiling. By lowering the top of the window about a foot and raising the lower window the same, resulted in the hot air above to flow out through the top of the window and cooler outside air to flow in, causing a constant “breeze” coming in. Understand, it was still hot, but this made it more tolerable. When the tract homes started popping up during the 1950’s, with their “Yankee” style 8 foot ceilings, most were built with “attic fans” to suck that hot ceiling air out and bring a flow of outside air in. Swamp coolers (evaporative coolers) were also popular.
Some folks had screened-in sleeping porches used in the hotter months. Some folks slept outside on cots with mosquito netting suspended over them.
Mostly, we just dealt with the fact that we were going to be hot in the summer. Call it normalcy bias, if you will. Heat was just a fact of life living in Texas. I don’t recall ever thinking that much about the heat as I grew up. After air-conditioning became the norm was when I realized how hot it really was.
Timely article. Having moved from a moderate rainy climate to one with distinct seasons I need a good coat and boots this winter. Last winter was an exception in many places and while they normally have a cycle of a few inches of snow here and it melts; last winter they got 4 feet and it stayed. ouch!
Another reason why living on Maui might not be so bad,,,
Yeah, no doubt about it Maui has a nice climate.
I’m fine with a few inches of snow not sure about feet of snow. I’m hoping that this coming winter goes back to ‘normal’ but this summer has been 15+ above average so who knows. : /
Early in our marriage we lived in a really old apartment building. The wiring was so old that we couldn’t put in an air conditioner. Living in the city with all the buildings so close together the apartment was like an oven. The way we kept cool was to fill the bathtub with cold water and just sit in it until you got cool. We would hop in and out all day. It was an old iron claw foot tub, nice and deep. Boy I miss that tub.
I must agree with ken, open the house at night closed in the day. Also remember to keep windows covered to keep the sun out and do not cook or other things to create heat in the house. With all the talk of heaters and fans etc., I think the most overlooked item in a home is insulation. A well insulated house takes much less to heat and cool.
About ten years ago my parents paid to have someone pump extra insulation into the walls of the house. Turns out that insulation didn’t make it all the way in, so there are a lot of hot/cold spots. If you use blown-in wall insulation, have the company do a thermal image after the fact to verify that the insulation did indeed go in where they said it would.
Important and good topic today…
We are close to the 41st latitude
Our house is an old farm house mostly likely 100 years old…
To keep cool like today…lights are off and fans are on.
It is fine, even in the 90s.
For winter we have a Dutchwest wood burnerer on the first floor
we put it in, in 2010, we are really thankful for that
When we run it our gas furnance which heats water radiators does not even run
Also to keep warm in cold
besides layers of clothing
You can put a mylar blanket around you under your sleeping blankets
We just tried one out for a few minutes…..you indeed get very warm!
We keep individual mylar blankets and mylar “sleeping bags” in home and vechicles.
Don’t forget warm hats to keep body temp up.
I often wear a knit cap indoors and out in the winter.
Lastly, stay hydrated, drinking warm fluids can warm your core temp
Cool/cold beverages the opposite.
Peace out friends~
For summer time google “homemade swamp cooler”… you can use a battery powered fan (I have several… One of our lessons learned from Isabelle!)
We each have a “get home bag” in the vehicle we drive each day, and this year I added a “winter bag” and “Summer bag” each having seasonally appropriate clothing. Spousal unit was not sure about all the bags but it does keep it organized and it’s easy to swap them out as the seasons change.
Good topic, we are dealing with this right now. Our central air is out and we are using 2 window units to keep the front of the house cool and blocked off the back of the house with a blanket over the door. It sucks being poor. It works pretty good for the most part. Last weekend we did some canning. We had the pressure cooker on the stove inside so we could control the heat better, but everything else was done on the fire pit outside. Thank God we have an extra window unit.
Then there are those of us whose normal body temperature is 96 or below (mine is 96)…talk about hypothermia! One degree difference. One advantage–I can stand heat a lot better than most people.
My body temperature is also 96.5…however, I am having problems with this heat and maybe it’s my age now. Cause I never had this problem and didn’t mind the heat till this year.
I noticed the Coleman fuel increased a dollar each year for a gallon, but haven’t bought in years –I bet it’s really unaffordable now. I bought when it was 9 and watched it go to 11 a gallon.
Two scenarios, think Level One here
Hot; Evaporating water tends to cool. If you’re in a situation whereas you find yourself overheating douse yourself with moderate temp water (NOT cold or Ice Water), mainly your neck and head, the evaporation will cool you. Also use a wet cloth towel and loosely wrap it around the back of your neck, again the evaporation will help.
The reasoning the ‘moving air’ cools you (as many suggest) is the air is evaporating the moisture in your skin, so make sure you drink a LOT of water with electrolytes. Unfortunately in very humid areas the evaporation does not work as well, but it WILL help.
Some also suggest “Swamp Coolers” in a crises situation try to cool only a smaller space (one room), not the entire house or Apartment, depending on the situation (no electricity) the amount of effort in cooling a room could raise your body temp if working too hard to cool yourself. Hence, limit your efforts and activity, do NOT eat a lot of high energy foods, drink a LOT of fluids (NO Sugar Tea or Sodas), and of course stay the heck out of the sun, and outside walls facing the sun.
Cold; Again, in a Level One, limit the area you try to heat, sure the rest of the house may freeze, but we’re talking survival here. Keep Moving, stay active, and do NOT just sit. Expend energy to keep you warmed, Eat HIGH energy snacks and drink warm water. Move all of your fingers and toes often; you MUST keep the circulation going to prevent damage to yourself.
Make sure you keep your head and neck covered with something DRY, do not allow any part of your body to get wet, this will allow evaporation and chilling. Be very careful to not sweat, again this will cause you to chill.
Cuddle up with your friends, family and/or buddies if they or you start to go into hyperthermia, or “hug” your best friend the Dog, they also put off a lot of heat. I’m sure you all have seen the movies whereas the lost stranger in a Blizzard got stuffed under a few animal skins with the gorgeous girl in the Arctic Tundra, body heat for someone that’s in hyperthermia is needed FAST! As Ken mentioned if the inner core gets much below 95, you’re a goner, time for Polar Bear feeding time.
NRP, when I was an early teenage youngster, I fell in with some older coon hunters. They would travel sometimes over a hundred miles to a location to run their hounds. This was before extended or quad cab pickups, meaning someone had to ride in the back, even in freezing weather. I would huddle up with the hounds inside the “dog box” and sleep like a baby, warm as toast, on these forays, although I’m guessing I smelled like…….well, you know.
some years ago i was working night from 10 to 630 in the morning we didnt have ac in that place so i improvised i would take a heavy tshirt get it really wet wring it out put that on then put a fan pointed on me it wasnt the greatast but it worked for a while
In summer, if you got the freezer space, welders cooling vests and some extra inserts.
For winter, Milwaukee Tool makes a heated jacket that runs off their cordless batteries. Gerbing makes a full warming clothing set that’s 12v. The latter is pretty pricey!
Regarding hydration, in a SHTF situation where we may be hiking and walking to get from point A to point B hydration is critical. Many comments above referred to the hot summer weather some of us are dealing with. Here is a real case scenario that just happened to a 35 year old physician out at the Grand Canyon. She was an experienced backpacker. Heat kills, stay hydrated.
God bless the settlers and pioneers for being willing to tolerate what was necessary to settle this country.
Here in the PNW, we are having record heat. It was 105 degrees in Portland, OR today. This is record setting heat for this region and the people here, including myself, are not used to the heat. It reminds me that the last time I fought fires in Southern CA. I was 30 years younger and 40 pounds lighter.
Another hint about living and surviving in the heat back then was to live, eat and sleep in the heat with no air conditioning. For the duration of fire season, we lived ate and slept with a light sheen of perspiration for 5+ months. The fire dorm had no air conditioning and we scrubbed hoses, cut trails and fire line at dawn and dusk taking a break at mid afternoon as our only adaptation to the heat. When in a very hot region like Palm Springs, we slept in the high school gym and cut fire line at night when the temp was in the mid 80’s. Daytime temps in July was 116 degrees and we have our limits too. John Q. Public thought we were being lazy sleeping during the day. (your tax dollars at work.) To this day, I try to minimize my use of our home portable air conditioners knowing it will reduce my heat tolerance when I have to cut grass on a hot day.
My clothing is light breathable cotton next to my skin and I wear full coverage because I fear skin cancer as I get older. I wear a wide brimmed Tilley hat with a band of cotton diaper material wrapped around the brim. It gets soaked with water and allows for evaporative cooling. I keep ice trays in constant use this time of year and have several Nalgene bottles of water within the fridge at all times with our current heat wave. I do like the 1x day Arizona Iced tea and 1x day soda. my consumption of booze goes way down in the heat. No gravy, light on carbs describes my diet. lots of sandwiches in this weather. I keep an ice chest in the back of my truck and it has a 7 lb block of ice to keep the inside cool enough to prevent lettuce from wilting. Each day, I rotate the blocks out with a fresh frozen block.
My region has smoke from fires in addition to the heat which leads to: wearing socks and shoes or boots because the Wasps and Yellowjackets are out in force. My baited traps are being filled every day with the heat and smoke present. I have observed that the combination of heat and smoke tends to irritate stinging insects. In addition to the ice chest in my truck, I also have one of the insulated sunshades for use in my windshield and park facing the sunshine. they are cheap and they do make a difference.
My wife is born and raised in the city and has never had to work in extreme heat. She is a bit more heavy-set than I am and she is much more sensitive to the heat than I am. Keep an eye on each other when you are out working in the heat. Stubborn people need to be told when to take a break and they need lessons on pacing themselves. If you see a person stumbling around with cherry red skin, get them into the shade with ice packs in the armpits, inner thigh and wrists. If you place icepacks alongside your neck, you risk getting a brain freeze headache. I prefer a shady spot where you can catch a breeze to recover from a heat injury. Sipping cool water or beverage is ok as long as they are with-it enough not to choke on the fluid ( don’t force the issue )
There you have it: my hints for surviving a heat wave from a retired Wild Land Firefighter. ( now I’m just another old, fat, bald guy.).
Think that you guys have it worse than we do east of you. Kind of reverse from the norm eh?
Glad I got the heat pump this week been hitting 100 and lots and lots of smoke!
Overweight isn’t always an issue for ladies sweating/heating up.
I have lost 14 lbs. with a goal of 10 more and still have heat issues like never before.
It’s the age—67; hormone issues treated by taking Black Cohosh which lessens the attacks and occurrence.
I grew up in East Central Florida (Space Coast) without A/C. Yeah, I’m a Cracker. And I agree with Dennis who grew up in Texas. Houses were built differently. Here in Florida we had massive overhangs on the roofs. We could open our windows in the heaviest rainstorms and never get wet. We also had big paddle ceiling fans (not these toys you see nowadays). We all knew “hey, it’s Florida, it’s hot…shut up.”
I have only lived up near Canada for 2 months. Was just traveling through the Midwest with high humidity and high 90s. It’s not pleasant even though I lived there without AC growing up. I still wonder if the time of year WSHTF will be an overriding factor in which direction people flee.