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Staceyy

Please Help Me With These Survival Questions

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I live in the suburbs and am trying to get more prepared. I have several questions. Please help me by answering one or all. I'm pretty ignorant about these things.

 

1) I'm thinking of buying a rain barrel to put under my downspout. How would I purify this to use to drink, flush toilets and wash dishes? If I have electricity, is there a way of using it in the washing machine without the water from the pipes automatically filling it?

 

2) I have a woodburning fireplace. It doesn't produce too much heat. If I bought and installed a fireplace insert, could this possibly heat a two story house without an additional heat source? Or would it just provide a bit more additional heat? Would it just help me to lower the thermostat?

 

3) My house is fairly modern, I have seen wood stoves but they have all been old fashioned looking. Do they have more modern looking ones? My gas furnace will need to be replaced soon. Can I substitute a wood stove for a gas furnace? I'm thinking of putting the stove in my basement. There are two floors above it. I've never seen an actual wood stove in action. I'm assumming you need to keep feeding it with wood? How much? Does this get expensive?

 

4) I'm thinking of buying solar lanterns. How much light do they produce? How many would I need to light an average sized room at night? How do they compare to electric bulbs?

 

5) For cooking I'd like to buy a solar oven and crane for my fireplace. I would also need a Dutch Oven. I have a barbecue grill and both a gas and electric stove. Is there anything else I'm missing?

 

6) I plan on buying a crank radio, but I heard they break easily. Would Walkman radios be better? Any better alternatives?

 

Thanks so much for your input!

 

 

 

 

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I can give you a little input about the fireplace.

 

I can't advise you on a insert since I have never had one, but I'll tell you what I did to boost the amount of heat that comes out into the room.

 

I worked at a business last winter that had sheet metal for building access doors. It was 22 guage steel. I bought a piece that was about 36" x 24". I bent in the short sides and put it in the back of my fireplace. It really made a huge difference in the amount of heat radiating into the room. I got the idea from the Plow and Hearth magazine. They were selling a piece of stainless steel metal that was, I believe 20 guage, (thinner than my 22 guage.) It cost about $120, if I remember correctly! It was supposed to reflect more light into the room as well, but I figured that would diminish over time as the soot built up on it.

 

I only paid around six dollars for mine with my employee discount!

 

I don't know if an insert would interfere or help in using your fireplace for cooking since I have never seen one, but I can still cook in mine with the metal in it.

 

 

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Hi Staceyy:

 

You are correct in saying that your fireplace does not produce much heat in your room. They are mainly for looks. The heat rises out the chimney. Inserts have an electric fan that pushes the warm air out into the room. They do save alot on the electric bill but if we lose power, there goes that insert fan.

 

We are actually tearing our fireplace out this year and replacing it with a wood burning stove. There is a product called an Eco fan that you sit on top of the wood burning heater. The rising heat is what propels the fan blades. You do not need electricity for it.

 

Here is a link for one. There are a few different types and sizes depending on what kind of wood heater you get.

 

http://www.woodlanddirect.com/Woodstove-Co...34Pa38Ta38Pa3r0

 

As for the rain collection system, there are many sites about that. The type of roof, size of roof, amount of rain fall in your area, etc all determine how much water you will collect and how safe it would be for drinking.

 

There is a very good water filter called the Big Berky. They use it in 3rd world countries. It will purify even ditch water.

 

Here is a link for them:

 

http://www.survivalunlimited.com/waterfilter.htm

 

As for the hand crank radios, just do a search. There may be units that are better made than the cheap ones. I am personally gonna order a solar bttery charger & rechargeable batteries instead and use my shortwave radio. That way we will know what is going on in the rest of the world if things get that bad.

 

Hope my 2 cents has helped some.

 

Remember, water is priority ONE.

 

 

God Bless,

 

CoM

 

 

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Hi Staceyy:

 

We bought a wood stove for the living room last August. We also bought $700 worth of wood. This winter was a cold one here and we still have 1/3 of our wood left over. The winter before cost us $2000.00 in oil.

 

New stoves are very pretty and highly functional with fans and after burners to create a "cleaner" smoke. They claim that a full stove creates as much particulate pollution as striking one match.

 

From the back of the room the heat must cross the room, make a right angle turn, go down an hall a u-turn up the stairs and heat the bedrooms upstairs. The kids had to keep their doors shut or it got too hot!

 

One fill of wood lasts all night without refilling and often leaves enough hot coals to start the new fire in the morning.

 

Good luck,

 

Ted

 

The Gift of Fear

 

"True fear is a gift.

Unwarranted fear is a curse.

Learn how to tell the difference." ...a book review about "a book that can save your life.” It really does have an answer to, “Why me?” on the level of social violence.

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Hi Staceyy:

 

We bought a wood stove for the living room last August. We also bought $700 worth of wood. This winter was a cold one here and we still have 1/3 of our wood left over. The winter before cost us $2000.00 in oil.

 

 

We have a wood stove we bought before Y2K. It is a Sweet Heart stove. It has kept us warm every winter. We do not use the electric furnace at all and it states it heats up to 1500 sq.ft. It keeps our house very comfortable and it is much larger. I can't help you with dollar amounts on wood. We cut our own. Ours is in an enclosed back patio that we can open up the french doors on three sides of the room, allowing the heat to disperse. It has definitely made up for the initial cost. I don't know how it would be in the basement and have to heat two floors above it. The top floor would definitely be cooler unless you have some sort of venting.

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Hi Stacey,

 

Ditto on the wood stoves. We have a passive solar house, but on cloudy days, the wood stove is our only source of heat and it does a great job. The wood stove store people can give you an idea of what size wood stove you'd need to heat your entire house. Be sure to look the top over too to make sure you could using it for cooking in a pinch. The store we visited had many very modern looking stoves. So to answer your question, yes we have substituted a wood stove for a gas furnace. You'd probably want one big enough so that you could get enough wood in it to burn all night. Our is small and burns out in the middle of the night, but the house retains enough heat so we are comfortable enough until morning. Oh, and if your wood stove has a large enough top, you can use a camp oven on it.

 

On solar lanterns, I've was using one I got at Walmart. It was certainly bright enough to read by or do whatever I need to do in the kitchen and charged up just fine in the winter, though when we had three cloudy days in a row the charge got pretty low. You'd need several to light a room: it was a local, bright light. But, the switch just broke. I don't know if I can fix it. It's made me remember a thread we did a while back on the Rule of Three, i.e., you should have three ways of doing everything. I'll look for another lantern, but I really need some light sources that *I* can produce.

 

If someone knows of a good solar battery charger, please post. I've been looking around and can't find anything with decent reviews.

 

On solar/crank radios, we're using this one:

 

http://www.rei.com/product/777501

 

I bought from REI because they have a very good return policy. So far so good. We've been using it 6 weeks. The kids have cranked it and it hasn't broken yet! But, I'd rather have shortwave too and haven't found one that looks durable. I bough a fancier one with shortwave from them a while back, but it was just junk.

 

Best wishes and please let us know what you figure out.

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Hi nmchick:

 

This is the solar battery charger that I am planning to order. It is much nicer than the universsal one. This one will charge AAA, AA, C,D and 9V batteries. It comes with attachments that will also charge your cell phone, Laptop (light use) using a 12V DC car lighter plug, Ipod, Blackberry or other PDA s, Camera Batteries with a 12V Charger

 

 

http://store.sundancesolar.com/10wasochwiva.html

 

 

and batteries

 

http://store.sundancesolar.com/raybat.html

 

 

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I have a fireplace insert with a fan I can turn on/off. I LOVE it! It does not heat my entire single level home however I can turn my thermostat waaaaaaaay down.

 

We get free wood, we use pallets and scrap wood, we cut them to size so they stack perfectly. My FIL is retired and getting wood for the both of us is his job...

 

I cant help you with the rain barrel question...I live in the High Plains...it doesnt rain much here.

 

 

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Staceyy. It will depend on what and how long your winter weather is. I live in upstate NY and it stays quite cold and winters are long. If you cannot afford to take out your fireplace , it is still possible to heat your home with a woodstove and enough wood. ( Dont get a bunch of evergreen type wood, pine, only use it to start a fire with... and use hardwood to sustain a long burning fire. ) Pine pitch can be very hazardous in a chimney. In this area, it takes several cords of wood if it is the only heat source for a home, per winter and cold springtime. When someone says it just cost so much in wood, its wise to price stuff for your area and make sure what it will take. Also, its already time to start gathering wood thats fresh cut , just about, to stock up for next winter so it will be dry and seasoned. If you are not used to cutting and chopping, this gives you some time to acquaint yourself. National forests often allow you to gather wood with a permit if its necessary.

 

I like the idea of using a metal sheet bent to fit the back of a fireplace if thats what you are stuck with, to help reflect the heat outward. This would also allow you the ability to install a cooking crane. Still a solid iron griddle/grill piece can be put on blocks in the fire place to cook with as well, inside the fireplace once you have your coals to cook with.

 

If you can get the woodstove have it placed inside your dwelling. The chimney pipe and gear for it will not cost you an arm and a leg. If no one knows how to install it have it done professionally but you can often ask the guys who work in that dept to come out after hours for a lower rate if you purchase one and money is tight.

 

Yes, about the water, if you gather it from rainfall, you can certainly purify it and filter it. There are different methods for this and you can do a search in the search link above to read about that. Berkeys are nice. You can just boil up water for dishes after you get any leaves and twigs out, and for bathing but for drinking and cooking you want to filter it if you can. One of your preps should be stored water though, as well. There are ways to treat the water in the containers for long term storage.

 

I don't think the solar lights are a guarantee of good lighting. They tend to not last very long and do not provide very good light. Oil lamps and lamp oil or kerosene are a better choice. Candles set up safely also. It is also easy to use olive oil or other oil to burn in a lamp. Its even easy to make them out of canning jars and abit of thin wire and a wick.

 

As for a woodstove heating your home. depending on how many square feet your home is, it can be colder in other rooms, but the heat activated fans sound like a big help. I know when my parents house got cold and we came back , it took about two and a half days to really warm it all back up nicely with a small woodstove in the kitchen. It had an upstairs and was 2400 sq feet. That was the dead of winter in the Sierra foothills in December. With snow outside.

 

One simply adapts by wearing warm sweaters, long johns, socks and shoes, if its cold , or shuts off parts of the house and sleeps near the stove in some peoples experience. Ive got a friend who is older and he had moved his bed to the living room in his farmhouse this winter, as it was much easier to just heat the kitchen and living room and downstairs bathroom for his basic needs.

 

One can set candles in sand in an empty aquarium for light if they are afraid of the candles getting knocked down. One could make tin or copper lanterns to secure candles in too. You can simply solder them together, making holes for light to go through, which can be a great art project. One can put a durable glass in them as well. If you are crafty at all its not hard to make them. Or someone you may know might be able to figure them out easily enough yet.

 

also if we go without electricity long term, it is natural to want to make the best of daylight and to go to sleep earlier at night to conserve on lamp oil and candles.

 

as to your washing machine, if you had electric power strong enough to run the washer, you can fill the machine each cycle requiring water with a bucket, but alot of us know we will just use a five gallon bucket and a clean plunger to wash clothes by hand. One can also purchase a wonder washer and use those. They do a good job, but you still have to wring things out and hang to dry. I thiink people will be much more practical about what clothes they wear in such a case. Washing blankets and such things will be harder. One will probably be alot more careful about eating in bed after the fact! ( to keep sheets and blankets cleaner longer).

 

One of the things you can do is do drills to get used to scenarios that may come up . Some of the women on here have talked about teaching children to obey instantly, to be very quiet, in case there is danger. It also can be a weekend to go camping so you can work on skills for the no electric times, or they cook dinner in the fireplace and entertain themselves without using electricity. This is a family exercise and it can tell you how it will stress each other out and how to deal with that as well over time. When bad emergencies occur, it is often said how wiped out everyone really feels the first few days. Things like easy to prep food for the first few days and having things organized for it really help this.

 

If you decide to start using your dutch oven in the fireplace, if you go to bake bread, this tip might help, put a layer of cornmeal on the bottom of the dutch oven before you put the dough in, it helps to keep it from scorching. Also, coals the size and shape of charcoal briquets are about ten degrees apiece and this can help you figure out the temperature of the coals and to estimate how much you need for various dishes.

 

Things often take alot more time to do too, when you don't have power. Make a box for keeping plenty of wood for the fire. This also gives it a chance to dry out before its used if its wet or frosty from being outside. Make it a big box too and it will probably last you a while. I hope the layout of your home is easy enough to heat.

 

Having a Big Buddy heater that uses propane is another idea as well. Always good to have a backup.

 

Good luck with your choices!

 

 

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Be sure that anything you install will be "to code" so that your home insurance will NOT be invalidated. Have it inspected, if necessary.

 

:bighug2:

 

 

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1) I'm thinking of buying a rain barrel to put under my downspout. How would I purify this to use to drink, flush toilets and wash dishes? If I have electricity, is there a way of using it in the washing machine without the water from the pipes automatically filling it?

 

Probably the easiest way is to dip pans or buckets and then filter through a water filter as needed for drinking or cooking. If bathing, I would be less concerned about filtering with the exception of leaves and general dirt that collects on the roof and would then filter down into the barrel. However (happy Rita?), most of the dirt and debris will settle down into the bottom of the barrel. Chlorine bleach could be used in the barrel to keep algee from forming if the water was going to be in the barrel for awhile.

 

If I was going to be using this water in my washer, if I had the power to use my washing machine, a simple pillow case in the bucket, fill the bucket, lift pillow case would be enough to filter any dirt and debris for washing.

 

About shutting off the water that automatically fills your machine, reach behind your washing machine. I have to get a stool to see back there. About 6 inches below the back of your machine is 2 facuets, one is hot the other is cold. Just turn them off.

 

When you hand fill your machine and turn it on, the machine automatically knows it is full and won't fill it any more... unless of course you have it on high and only filled it half full. Make sense?

I do not turn my water off. I boil water on my stove because my machine's hot water doesn't get hot enough for some of my fabric I need to pre-shrink. I pour it in and depending on how much fabric I have depends on the water level I turn it on. so I boil huge pans of water on my stove and pour it into my washer, adjust the level. Turn machine on and away it goes. If the water level is set at medium and I over fill it a bit that is ok.

 

I kept my hot water valve behind my washer shut off when I had kids at home because they always mess with the knobs! Cold water is fine for our level of dirt <smile>

 

 

2) I have a woodburning fireplace. It doesn't produce too much heat. If I bought and installed a fireplace insert, could this possibly heat a two story house without an additional heat source? Or would it just provide a bit more additional heat? Would it just help me to lower the thermostat?

 

Inserts work well, but remember heat rises so your upstairs will be nice and toasty, you might install a ceiling fan to keep the heat circulating.

 

It will never heat each room like a central heating system does, but remember you are using the fireplace to cut back on energy bills so add an extra blanket and wear sweats! LOL! but it depends on where the fire place is in the house, how high your ceiling is (8', 9', 10', 12') the higher the ceiling the more space has to heat. Is your home an open floor plan or rooms.

 

I hated my insert! pulled it out! It is rusting behind the barn! My husbands grandmother had it installed, sure it worked well but with little children running around I didn't want to risk a burn. I had a chimney sweep come in and clean my fireplace and the creosote build up in the chimney was pretty bad.

 

 

 

3) My house is fairly modern, I have seen wood stoves but they have all been old fashioned looking. Do they have more modern looking ones? My gas furnace will need to be replaced soon. Can I substitute a wood stove for a gas furnace? I'm thinking of putting the stove in my basement. There are two floors above it. I've never seen an actual wood stove in action. I'm assumming you need to keep feeding it with wood? How much? Does this get expensive?

 

can't help ya here, I have a fire place you can almost stand it, it takes 3 foot long logs.. if I use my fireplace for heat only, I use in a cold winter, 3 cords of wood.

 

4) I'm thinking of buying solar lanterns. How much light do they produce? How many would I need to light an average sized room at night? How do they compare to electric bulbs?

 

take a look at a single solar light, solar panel gets put on the roof and light inside. I use them outside with motion detectors so in the dark I can be in the rabbitry and it is enough light for me. However (Rita, you happy now?), it isn't a great light for serious stuff.

 

If you are looking at solar to replace your home lighting, you need quite an elaborate system. You need a bank of batteries to store the suns energy. For a SHTF situtation, the single flood type lights are bright enough.

 

assuming a wal mart is near you http://tinyurl.com/cs5p6n home depot or lowes also carries them. The link is a tiny url because the wal mart link was 123 characters long!

 

 

drained my brain!

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Hello gals,

I've been looking at solar motion detecting floodlights, but I've heard they're not very bright.

 

Westbrook, do you have one of the Sunforce lights that was on the link you sent? I"m not sure which brand to get, so would appreciate people's thoughts.

 

As far as water, I've just purchased a couple rain barrels from the city, and will be installing them soon. I'm hoping that they will only be needed for watering the lawn, but in a pinch I will have two 55 gallon barrels of water (if it rains!). If necessary I can filter it (I have a Berkey water filter which I can use with the rain water), or use it to flush toilets and wash dishes. I've heard that there are chemicals in the roofing material, but I"m hoping the Berkey would filter them out enough. I also have many glass bottles of water in my basement which I rotate every six-9 months.

 

As for the gas stove, I looked into the reliability of gas in a SHTF situation as I was debating between a gas and wood fireplace. Some of the guys on other forums told me that they thought natural gas would stay on way past the electricity. Apparently when the grid went down a few years back on the east coast, the folks there still had gas. Anyway, we're gambling on gas... as being in the city, getting wood, and installing everything with permits etc was too much.

 

 

 

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Stacey,

I use my solar oven probably 8 or 9 months out of the year several days out of the week. There are lots of good types out there. Here is a link to some different types. http://www.solarovens.net/

 

I've seen the Sun Oven in action and it works really well. I decided on the Tulsi hybrid. It's expensive but, I've gotten my money's worth because I use it so much. I go in to work early so I can plug it in and it will start cooking with electricity until the sun hits it.Then it automatically shuts off the electricity when the temp is a certain number of degrees. That way I have no worries about temps going too low if its cloudy. I also discovered I can use it during the winter in my kitchen..kind of like a giant crock pot...it uses little electricity and even warmed up the kitchen a bit. It also means doing some pre-planning of what you're going to cook...gotta get food outside early so you don't miss any of those suns rays. B)

Edited by dogmom4

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Stacy I have tried some of the things you ask about.

 

Rain water is great for washing, it is already soft. Keep the barrel covered with a lid, light in the barrel encourages algea growth. You can treat the water with cholorine, with iodine, use a Berkey filter, or make a 'slow sand filter' (you can even make one that takes arsenic out of water).

 

Re the lights: I use a multitude of lighting off the grid, but if it hit the fan, you don't want to be so lit up that everyone in the area notices you are the ONLY house with lights on and decides to show up and bunk with you. Your resources won't go very far and it could get nasty. The best idea I saw on this was from a gentlemen who was using auto light bulbs wired into auto batteries with alligatort clips (some electrical know how needed, but not too much). He used yellow lights, so as not to attract bugs, and to look to someone outside like firelight, and less tempting to them to barge in on. Then he was using a solar trickle charger to keep up the battery charges. I admit he sounded a little extreme when I read it, but it was food for thought. He also recommended LED light bulbs. My main way to handle lightly (when we lived off the grid for 6 wks while the electric company got around to fixing our downed wires) was just to GO TO BED when it got dark. Get up in the daylight. No lighting needed!

 

Where I live it is too dark/cloudy/rainy for solar oven. I conserve fuel by using wrap cooking.

 

You can purchase a wood stove to put in the basement using existing heating ducts and alll. Do not get an electric pilot light on a gas stove though, they often need electricity to light it. Do it the old fashioned way (matches).

 

I use the bucket and plunger wash method, but for larger loads I fill the washer with buckets of water, then turn it on. (My washer water thermostadt is off, it only puts in cold water, so if I want hot water wash I have to fill myself. It is a nusiance, but not too bad.)

 

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>>Westbrook, do you have one of the Sunforce lights that was on the link you sent? I"m not sure which brand to get, so would appreciate people's thoughts.<<

 

 

actually I do use them. I paid $78 for mine and have several of them. Mine are on motion detectors for several reasons...

 

one is if there is wild creatures on the chicken roof.. the dogs are barking, I can see them to shoot them! I have them facing down so when I walk from one place to another they light up and then turn off. I also have them in my milking parlor, rabbitry, barn area so that I can work at night and not have to worry about running lighting/wires out there. I can flip a switch to deactivate the motion detector when I am out working.

 

they give off pretty good light.

 

The best thing to do is join a solar light or off grid group at yahoo groups and talk to the experts.

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sounds like you are taking two steps there; prepping and self sufficiency. along the way you are also taking steps to becoming more green, whether you know it or not. solar lights for the yard are a great idea. rain barrels are always great. they reduce your water consumption. even if you only use it for watering your garden and flushing the toilets. ever watch planet green? renovation nation is a show that deals with these issues.

Edited by ROSARYCHAPLET

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