Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Wood and Warm Connection

Now that we know cold weather and winter are well on their way in most areas, our thoughts turn to keeping warm and dry. For most people that means checking the furnace, making sure the filters are clean and the parts oiled. But what about your preparedness situations, and what does it take to keep warm?

While those storms are still on the way, let’s consider a few points about wood, the woodpile or will it be just a wood bundle? Should you consider wood as a fuel? What if you don’t have a fireplace? What if you do have a fireplace? In an emergency situation will you attempt to heat an entire home or apartment? Will you just want enough to to cook over? Or are you going to be honest and admit that when times are tough you just want to be able to make some smores?

City and suburb dwellers have a much harder time than those who live on ranches or farms in finding resources for wood. If you happen to be a city person, even if you have a fireplace, consider how much a supply of wood may cost. If you are considering the local supermarket or convenience store as the place to obtain a sufficient supply to get you through any length of utility down time, I suggest you think again. Even a few bundles could set you back almost the amount of the national debt. The supermarket wood bundles are sold with the idea of convenience and allowing you to create the atmosphere of a “fun” fire in the fireplace – and you are willing to pay the price. You have to look again to see if you could even afford the option of having a fire for an hour let alone a week with a supply from the supermarket.

However, there are a few options where you might consider obtaining some wood. Keep in mind soft wood is found mostly in the west and hard wood is in the east. Soft wood is quick burning. Hardwood burns hotter and longer.

Check to see if there are any orchards in the outlying areas around you. Some times the trees are trimmed or pruned in the fall. If you contact the growers ahead of time some are willing to let you have the larger branches. You need to be willing to pay a nominal fee as well as work to cut the branches into logs.

Locate the tree trimming companies in your area. Ask about obtaining logs, or firewood from them. It probably won’t be free, but could be a source you had not considered.

Check the Yellow Pages under firewood. Some companies offer a variety of woods from a small amount to a cord to a pick-up full. A load or any amount of pure hard wood will cost much more than the same amount of mixed wood.

See if the BLM has an accessible area near you where if you obtain a permit you can get firewood. Sometime it is the fallen wood you are allowed to pick up. Sometimes it is the wood that the rangers have culled out.

Look at your woodpile as a source for heat that will allow you to get through a power outage or the aftermath of a major storm, when your normal heat source is not working. Wood is not usually the resource to depend on to heat a home for an entire winter.

Have on hand the long fireplace matches or the long fireplace lighters. They are much safer to use while you are trying to get the wood to catch. Pinecones dipped in paraffin wax make good tinder, or fire starters. If you use newspaper to try to start your fire, wad it very tightly and place it under the wood. Loose sheets of paper are not effective and will be wasted.

Should you not have a fireplace, short logs can be used in a regular charcoal barbeque grill to cook outside if necessary

No matter how small your woodpile is keep it dry. Wet wood has a difficult time burning well,or even burning at all. What good will it do to have a supply if when there is a need the wood will not function to provide the heat you need.

No matter where it is stored or stacked keep it covered and protected. It is an investment as well as a supply for that rainy day.

Black widow spiders love woodpiles. So do mice and other bugs. Wear gloves and carry a big stick. Learn how to scream softly so that you don’t interfere with the affects of the thunder and lightening.

I’ll talk about space heaters and indoor heating in an upcoming blog.

Meanwhile with the cold shivers season approaching make sure those long thermals still fit and are ready to put on.

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