For those of us who know North Dakota winters, we know to be prepared, for those of you who are new to this area,.. I hope this helps prepare you. Several years ago we had a winter storm that dumped so much snow that it took days for plows to open many roads, and many people were stranded at their homes for more than a week. So you should have a winter emergency plan like you have your other safety plans for your family, and go over them together so your children know what to do if you are not there. You need to have a plan for when your in your car and get stranded, and one for your home. For your home you need to look around and decide if you have what you need to stay warm for about a week or so if the power goes out and your stranded. Do you understand about carbon monoxide poisoning? Using most all heaters will produce this deadly gas and you must vent it. that means when it is blizzard outside, your huddled around your heater, and it is negative 60* below zero or even colder, you still MUST open a window for ventilation. Propane furnaces and wood/pellet stoves and other furnaces use an electric fan to move the air. You can invest in a generator to power your furnace and other small appliances, this will require some expense and hiring an electrician to connect it. (and you must make sure it is ventilated also)
Two that claim they don't is a alcohol gel pack, (but in further reading have learned that these usually contain formaldehyde and give off a carbon dioxide.) The other is sold as a product called Eco fuel. it comes in a small canister which you use with a small metal frame to cook on, it claims to be non toxic and safe for indoors. and gives off aprox 4 hours of heat. You can find them at emergency essentials for $3.99 each plus shipping. web site http://www.beprepared.com/ phone (1-800-999-1863 Customer order line) I have also found them and more things at Safety Central, Web site http://www.safetycentral.com/cookersheaters.html phone(707 472-0288) though I have found their prices a little higher, they have more variety. These are good for temporary heat.
Heating for long periods of time you will need a heater, you can either use electric heaters that you have hooked up to generators, or you can use small propane or kerosene heaters. Be sure that they are certified safe for indoor use. They must have a automatic low oxygen shut off system, and you should always have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector, ( I have seen some at Wallmart for $19.99 up to $40.) and always keep some kind of fresh air ventilation, even a small bit is critical.
You can use emergency candles, but they can be knocked over and cause a fire, and are usually not meant for giving off alot of heat. or cooking on. There is one called NUWICK 120 hour candle, which comes in a can that wont tip, and you can add extra wicks that give off more light and heat. they are available at Safety Central for about $14.50 plus shipping, for 16 oz.
NEVER use charcoal indoors! this gives off very poisonous fumes.
Winter safety in the home-
One of the first things to do when the power is out, and you know it may be out for a long period of time, find one small room that you can concentrate your heat. Don't try to heat the whole house. Have your water supply and food (or some food) in that room. You can use your kitchen, ours is connected to the dinning room so we tacked blankets up to divide it off. and of course never put anything with a flame near any curtains or the hanging blankets. The basement is also a good choice, below ground is more insulated and may stay warmer longer. If you live in an apartment building and can not go to a basement, go to a room that is center of your home, surrounded by other rooms will help shield it from outside elements.
The other things you need to do is turn off your water from the source, otherwise if your whole house freezes, your pipes can burst and then you can have a real mess. be sure furnace and gas water heater vents are clear of snow.
Things that can help to have is lots of blankets, newspapers and duct tape, (you can tape layers of newspaper onto your body for more insulation between clothing) It can also be taped over windows for more insulation.
Several layers of lightweight clothing is warmer than a single heavy coat, Gloves and hat can help prevent loss of body heat. For children (and even elderly,) if possible keep them in a bed together, combined body heat with layers of blankets and even clothing spread on top helps to keep heat confined.
Things you should have for an in home emergency kit are. A Flashlight and extra batteries. A battery powered radio. First Aid kit. Blankets or sleeping bags. High calorie non perishable food like dried fruit, nuts. granola. Water. Emergency heat sources. Matches. and a fire extinguisher.
Keep fuel tank filled to help prevent fuel line from freezing, Be sure to have a shovel in the trunk, and sand or even kitty litter can help when stuck on ice. If stranded do not attempt to leave the car, Start car and run heater for 10 minutes every hour. Keep exhaust pipe clear of snow, and keep a window cracked for fresh air. Keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood flow going which will help to keep you warm. An Auto Winter Emergency kit is similar to the home one, just add Mobile phone and charger, shovel, tow rope, battery booster cables, red cloth for s.o.s flag, whistle, extra dry clothes, and a small can and matches to melt snow for drinking. do not eat snow, this lowers the body temperature faster.
Hypothermia occurs when the body core temperature is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, slow or slurred speech, memory loss, disorientation, frequent stumbling, drowsiness and exhaustion. If this happens seek medical care immediately. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person slowly, warm the body core first. chest and stomach area. Do not warm arms and legs first, this drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure. Never give a frostbite or Hypothermia victim caffeine or alcohol since both alter the heart rate and may hasten the ill effects of the cold body temperature.