Friday, August 14, 2020

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Home Improvement and Winter Survival Tips

Floyd Braun

Greetings everyone and I hope you all are staying safe and warm in the latest storms. I will begin this week’s column with some winter storm survival tips. These tips come from my own experience and those of my family. In no way are they intended to be absolutes or the only way to prepare, but are simply things we have done in the past in times of emergency.

Staying warm at home

Staying warm without power does not necessarily mean being comfortable, but it means survivability until help can reach you, whether be it emergency services, the power company, or other entities.

Each year we know that the power will go out and storms will come, so over time gather these items for the home:

0-degree sleeping bag for each person in the home. These cost about $100.00 new. You can find used ones at military surplus stores and other places like Goodwill for much less.

Extra blankets that you only use for emergencies, go ahead and let them be an ugly color or pattern you find at a thrift store. Get one for each person and one for each door and window. Blankets at thrift stores run about $5-$10.00. Use blankets to cover doors and windows this will keep you warmer, longer.

Keep up the calories and stock up on items like energy bars and have other items on hand that are easily heated using a sterno-approved stove and a can of sterno, which allows you to burn directly in the can. They can be found at outdoor and camping shops for cheap.

Keep in mind that if chopping wood or shoveling, you will need 2500 to 5000 calories per day. When I worked on a crab boat in the Bering Sea, we consumed around 5000 calories per day, per deck worker.

Remember, canned food are normally already cooked, and it may not be your favorite, but it will keep you going.

Wind-up cell phone chargers cost as little as $10.00 and a wind-up radio is important to get updates from local stations and to listen to music.

First Aid kit: keep in mind that the only help that may come for some time is you. A First Aid kit is a must to have in a home.

Keep busy, boredom will make you cold faster and slow your decision making skills.

Make sure you let a faucet drip cold and hot water to prevent pipes from freezing. Hot water freezes faster than cold water, so have one drip per second, per faucet.

If the power is out for more than 4 days, you may lose water service. Should this happen, turn off your water heater and remember this is a source of 40 gallons of fresh water. It is my opinion that you should consider turning off the water heater because when the power turns on, you do not want your element to burn out trying to heat an empty water heater.

Tips for the car: Items to carry in the car all winter

Blanket or sleeping bag for each person

Water or Gatorade (I prefer Gatorade as it freezes at much lower temps than water)

Quick energy snacks like candy or energy bars

A small to medium metal shovel

Candles and a metal tin



Knife and flint block to start a fire (I have been told of folks lighting straw to draw attention)

Spare tire and or fix-a-flat

First Aid kit

Red cloth to hang on your antenna

Ice scraper

Battery pack for cell phone

Toilet paper roll

Tips if you get stuck in the snow

If you become stuck and can not free your car, call 911 if you can.

Stay in your car.

Conserve gas by running the engine for 15 minutes and off for 15 minutes.

Keep your tail pipe clear and crack a window periodically to allow for fresh air.

Remove any exhaust fumes if it is an issue due to a broken tail pipe.

There are other things you can consider as well. This list is meant to get you thinking about what works and does not work for you, and remind you to prepare.

Home Improvement: Mouse Control

Recently I have had questions regarding mice and mice holes. Mice like to run along a solid surface as their vision is a secondary sense. Smell is their first, as well as their whiskers.

Fill mouse holes permanently with expanding spray foam.

Cover exterior holes in sheds and outbuildings with narrow gauge mesh.

Seal or remove food sources.

Indoor garden tip: Growing herbs

I recommend trying a small indoor herb garden with a built-in LED grow light. These kits start at as little as $30.00 and produce herbs year-round so they pay for themselves, and are fun for kids’ projects to gain their interest in growing food.