Author Topic: My lessons this week  (Read 3087 times)

Offline allofthemonkeys

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My lessons this week
« on: December 07, 2013, 01:44:17 PM »
     So, living in Northern Arizona at near 4000 feet, we are used to winters that are far from the warm weather south of us in Phoenix.  However with the unusual influx of Cold Arctic air that has recently swept the US, my family has been affected as well with a surprise.  On Friday Dec. 6th, I woke up and headed to the bathroom to take care of something.  When I turned on the water for my shower, nothing happened.  No water in my house worked.  My pipes had froze.  We have freezing temps but nothing usually this low.

     Thankfully I had hand sanitizer on hand to clean our hands, water storage for our food, and still had gas and power.  Water started to flow soon enough but it had our family thinking about how things would be if there was a complete shut off of services.  What would we do if our toilet couldn't flush?  How would be heat our home without gas service?  We have good candles and battery powered lights if we lose power but that was it.  I can cook on the grill or propane stove but do I want to do that in 17 degree temps?  Do I want to risk killing my family by bringing that stove into my house? 

     On Saturday morning, I sadly had to go to work, where I am writing this post.  On my way I saw our small rural community preparing for the annual Christmas parade.  I told my wife about it and, despite her dislike of parades, she took our little one out to watch.  My wonderful Hobbit of a wife told me that it was quite festive, running down main street, with holiday and patriotic themes.  However, we were shown another week point in our abilities.  Our child does not have proper winter clothing.  We have enough to bundle our little one up to run to and from the car, but not enough to stay outside for prolonged periods of time.

     I enjoyed my impromptu test, as it brought to light some problems with my house, my preps and my family.  I hope that all is well with you this winter season.

Offline Cedar

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2013, 02:57:54 PM »
When it gets cold. I open all my cupboard doors to the house, it generally helps my pipes in older houses (my last one was 104 years old).

If it makes you feel any better, SP had outgrown all her mittens and we found ONE that fit. So she had to play in the snow in one glove and one sock on her hands yesterday. She was BAWLING she couldn't find the other glove and couldn't play in the snow as she didnt want to touch it with bare hands. I didn't realize how much of a kuffuffle that the lack of a mitten could make in a life. When we can get to town again, we will get 2-3 pairs for her. And I am looking into the Canadian snow suits I am used to. The ones here are wimpy. I also like the thermometers that are built into some of them.

I also do not have good winter clothes for her as she has outgrown the Canadian ones I bought her. So I left her flannel PJ's on her, then tossed two pairs of pants over the top. A tshirt, a sweater, a fleece hoodie and then her coat. So don't forget layers are good too.

And yes. at 17F you can happily BBQ outside. Silly Canadians BBQ at -40F if they can get the BBQ to ignite. Sometimes the cold prevents that. AND NO.. never use them inside..

Cedar


Offline allofthemonkeys

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 03:39:55 PM »
I love to BBQ in the winter, I just didn't feel like firing it up a 7 AM to use the side burner to cook breakfast.  I know about layers, but my wife hates the cold, hence why we live in AZ.  :)  But I do need better clothes for the little one.  Toddler hoodies just don't cut it.

endurance

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 04:04:19 PM »
We've had the same cold weather system, only amplified by being nearly twice as high and 600 miles further north.  What I learned is that a 275 gallon IBC tote can freeze solid in three to four days of single digit (above and below zero) from an average temperature of 46F the month before.  I really would have thought the tank would have taken a week or longer to freeze up given the daily heating it gets from the sun.  Hopefully it didn't split, but I probably won't know now until March when it starts to thaw in earnest.

It's always good to use events like this as training drills.  I keep an ECWS bag in the basement just in case I have to grab and go in sub-freezing temperatures.  It's everything from long johns and wool socks to fleece and goretex from heat to toe.  With the right footware, I can be comfortable sitting still down to about 0F indefinitely and moving I haven't found a lower limit yet (although there's a higher level of activity required the colder it goes).

Offline Cedar

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2013, 04:48:57 PM »
What I learned is that a 275 gallon IBC tote can freeze solid in three to four days of single digit (above and below zero) from an average temperature of 46F the month before.  I really would have thought the tank would have taken a week or longer to freeze up given the daily heating it gets from the sun. 

My livestock tank heaters look like this (which I can't use this year)


Maybe you can find something like that to drop in?

Cedar

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 06:32:28 AM »
Its 200' from the nearest outlet. Emptying it was the plan.  I just didn't expect it to turn so cold so quickly. Pies poor planning on my part.

Offline bcksknr

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 08:04:44 AM »
     We have a Vermont castings wood stove as a backup in our home. It is in a finished basement den. If everything goes out, we can keep the house livable, as the heat rises naturally to upper floors. In preparation for Y2K (yes I did a little of that) I figured out how to use a "sheepherder's stove" in our living room. We do fur trade era reenacting, and have a "three dog" wood stove for our canvas lodge tent. It is a compact (12x12x30) steel box that is airtight and has a collapsible stovepipe that stores inside. I found that if I removed a window screen and replaced it with a piece of plywood with a stovepipe thimble in the right location, I could set up the stove in the livingroom and vent it safely out the window (with a stovepipe elbow). We put down plywood on the carpet and then an insulated stove pad from a big box building supply place. Another stove pad went behind it to protect the wall below the window. With curtains, drapery and other flammables removed, we tested it and found that it supplied comfortable additional heat for that area.
     I was concerned about safety (of course), but we had used this type of system in our canvas "buckskinner's" tent without mishap. The stove was never unsupervised, nor was it allowed to overheat. We had a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby. There is also a carbon monoxide detector in that room (we take one for our tent as well if we are going to use the stove). After I was satisfied that this would work safely, I packed up this adapter for emergency use. I'm not saying that you should do this, but a home in a cold climate, without safe alternative heat (if utilities go down) can become uninhabitable.
     Another good thing to have on hand is a couple of gallons of RV antifreeze. You can pour it in toilets and down sinks traps to keep them from freezing. You can create one room that you can heat, as a "safe room" from the cold and close off other unnecessary rooms (after removing items that might be damaged by freezing). Mattresses, bedding and blankets can be used to further insulate windows and walls, however remember that even if the outside air is cold, you must provide fresh air to breath. You don't want to completely seal yourself in. I have a couple of amazing -50 below army sleeping bags that I've slept outside in, on an insulating pad, with no shelter and was toasty warm (just to test how good they were). They weigh a ridiculous 15 pounds, but having some "bombproof" sleeping bags could be a lifesaver.
     I spent four days living out of a Quinzee. This is a snow cave carved out of a shoveled up mound of snow. It was just big enough for four of us to sleep in, with two to three foot thick snow walls. We put down closed cell foam pads on the snow floor for insulation. Of course we also had below zero rated sleeping bags. One morning the outside temperature was 15 below zero, but with one candle burning in the cave, the temperature was at 32 above (you don't want it warmer or the cave will melt and drip). That's a big difference of 47 degrees warmer, even with a couple of ventilation holes. The smaller the volume you try to heat the more efficiently you can do it.
     I would recommend never to burn a charcoal or propane grill indoors. That's how people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, a "silent" killer; you go to sleep and never wake up. If you have the gasoline, a vehicle parked outside of a garage and cleared of drifting snow, can be a last resort for a warming place. Again you have to be very aware of fresh air in and the danger from exhaust gases. Finally, You may be better off taking your vehicle and leaving your home to go to a shelter or a neighbor with wood heat, after draining and winterizing your plumbing and safeguarding your belongings as best you can. Material things can always be repaired or replaced; the lives of you and your family cannot. Discretion is often the better part of valor.

Offline mxitman

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 10:44:29 AM »
just a couple of things, if the toilets stop working for whatever reason you can still use them by placing a garbage bag in the bowl and fold over the seat, and use for just solid waste, tie the bag when done and place outside.

When I was little my brother and I used to lose our gloves/mittens all the time so my mom eventually just put socks on our hands...in all my pictures in the snow I look like some poor kid with socks on ;D it didn't hurt me.

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2013, 09:20:21 AM »
Putting a lamp (without the shade) near your pipes in the crawl space is usually enough heat to keep them from freezing.  You can also close the vents on the crawl space in the winter. 

Offline Greekman

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2013, 02:44:21 PM »
wranglerstar did something similar, though I do not think ti is that good idea for inside a home
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LpUjFPud1iI#t=237

Offline allofthemonkeys

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Re: My lessons this week
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2013, 04:46:40 PM »
I saw the wranglerstar video, my problem is that my laundry/utility room is located off of my back porch, and there is no door.  My water heater is back there, and it seems that the water in pipe is there too.  I would leave a heater of something in there but there is no door on that room and any heat would escape.  The last week or so we have left a couple of faucets on at a drip to keep the water flowing and that has worked.  I noticed that the temps were not low enough to freeze the water storage in my shed.  Its wide side is south facing and it seems to warm up enough and trap that heat enough to keep it above freezing.