Sitting here in Northern IL. with the temp. -5 hoping my furnace won't quit.
Anyway this brought this Question to mind. How do the folks prepare in
areas where it is really cold(e.g. Alaska) are the furnaces they have built
for harder use? do they have backup units? I know most of them have
fireplaces but I don't think they can heat some of the large homes we saw in
Alaska with just a fireplace.
I can't imagine a service guy mushing to a home at 3AM and-30.
This is not a earth shaking question but it would good reading I
It has gotten to -22f in N Illinois, thats cold, but I would guess
wood stoves, and a generator can do all you need. If the electric grid
went down today very few here would be prepared, alot would die.
I'm not from Alaska, but having survived the ice storm of '98 (see:
http://archives.cbc.ca/300c.asp?id=1-70-258 ), I was determined never
to be left without heat again.
Under normal circumstances, the bulk of our space heating requirements
are met by a single ductless heat pump, the operation of which is
obviously dependent upon electricity. When the heat pump cannot keep
up with the demand or when temperatures fall below -10C (the point at
which it basically suspends operation), the oil-fired boiler kicks on
-- however, it too is dependent upon electricity. In addition, a
number of rooms have in-floor electric radiant heat and if either (or
both) primary heating systems fail, this third option can supply at
least some heat, again, assuming we have electrical service.
In the event of an extended power cut, there are four propane
fireplaces distributed across three floors and a propane cook top that
can be used to prepare hot drinks and meals -- the latter will prove
critical it terms of your personal comfort and safety if you plan to
remain in your home during such an event, or are unable to leave for
Lastly, our boiler is wired to a backup generator, so one or two hours
operation each day would provide us with all the heat and DHW we
require. If it became apparent that power wouldn't be restored for
some time, running the boiler in this manner would allow us to
conserve our supplies of propane for other, more critical use.
And on that point, I try to keep at least 500 litres of heating oil on
hand at all times and 300 or more litres of propane in our main tank,
plus two smaller BBQ size tanks in reserve. I also keep two 20 litre
containers of gasoline in the garage and these get refreshed about
every other month. Given that our home is exceptionally energy
efficient, that's more than enough fuel to get us through an entire
Nevada flood waters begin to freeze over
WEATHER: Thousands remain without power in Northern California.
By Martin Griffith
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 01/06/2008 09:13:28 PM PST
FERNLEY, Nev. - Hundreds of homes sat in as much as 8 feet of water
Sunday following a canal rupture as freezing weather spread sheets of
ice over yards and streets, hindering efforts to get the water to
Nearly 300 homes were damaged when the canal's bank gave way following
heavy rainfall produced by the West Coast storm system that had piled
snow as much as 11 feet deep in the Sierra Nevada.
Thousands of customers were blacked out across the West and many of
them in California could remain in the dark for days because the storm
ripped down nearly 500 miles of power lines, utility officials said
More than 215,000 people remained without power in Northern California
Six snowmobilers and two skiers were reported missing in heavy snow in
the mountains of southern Colorado, and one hiker was missing in
snow-covered mountains in Southern California.
At least three deaths were blamed on the storm.
The irrigation canal failure at Fernley released a wave of frigid
water into the town early Saturday.
"In 10 minutes the entire back yard was completely flooded. It was
just nothing but water," said Kristin Watson, whose home backs up to
part of the canal. "We just sort of panicked because we knew we had to
get out of there real quick."
The canal was temporarily repaired by late in the day, but as much as
a square mile of the town was still under water at least 2 feet deep
ice impeded drainage.
"Our hope is over the next 24 hours to get the water out," Fernley
Mayor Todd Cutler said at a briefing Sunday morning. "But we still
have up to 8 feet of water in some areas. We need to keep the storm
drains unclogged to keep the water moving to a wetland. We also may
need to do some pumping in some areas."
Lyon County Fire Division Chief Scott Huntley estimated 1,500 people
had been displaced. No injuries were reported in the town of 20,000
people about 30 miles east of Reno.
Despite heavy rain Friday, Gov. Jim Gibbons said the canal was not
full when the bank failed. "This indicates to me there might have been
a structural weakness over the years. Nobody knows and we don't want
to speculate at this time," he said.
Rescuers in Colorado searched for six snowmobilers last seen Friday,
before the storm dumped 3 to 4 feet of snow near Cumbres Pass, close
to the New Mexico line.
The snowmobilers were two couples from Farmington, N.M., and their two
children, ages 14 and 13, said Betty Groen, the stepmother of one of
the missing men.
Donna Oney of the Colorado State Patrol said search and rescue team
members were looking for the snowmobilers. The search was halted as
night fell, to be resumed Monday.
Two skiers were missing 40 miles away in the Wolf Creek ski area, Oney
said. Wolf Creek had reported 39 inches of snow overnight
Associated Press writers Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Peter
Prengaman in Los Angeles, Scott Sonner in Reno, Robert Weller in
Denver and Kathleen Hennessey in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
I pondered about replying to this, it almost seems like a troll, but here
I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. Not quite the same climate as some parts of
Alaska but think Montana and North Dakota and you'll be close. Winter temps
at this time of year are uaually around 0 F for highs and something like -10
F - - 15 F for lows.
I live in a moderately large urban area with predominantly natural gas heat
via forced air furnace. Typically most people to not have any real back up.
I have never known there to be any interruption of natural gas and our
electric outages are rare and short. Some people do have fireplaces, mostly
for decoration, you know that 80's craze and all. I have a propane camp
stove and a coleman propane lamp that I could use in a pinch but if it came
to that I'd probably move into the shed :).
I don't understand the part of the question about the furnace. Firslty if
you are worried that your furnace might quite it's likely time for a new
one. My house is 30 yeears old and has the original furnace and we have
never had a lick of trouble out of it. Of course we do have it inspected
and serviced as required, before the heating season begins. You must also
realize that local building codes vary from locatrion to location taking
into account such things as climate. I suspect that in Sask. our insulation
requirements are different from yours in IL. Likewise our furnace is sized
according to the size of house and anticipated load. So really my furnace
should not be "working harder" than yours regardless of temp.
Lastly, I hope the comment about "mushing to a home" was a bit facetious. I
am sure you realise that service companies in Alaska, just like SK and IL
use motorized vehicles and hopefully the service co. selects vehicles that
meet their needs - ie 4X4 in rural areas, larege enough to carry anticpated
parts and service gear, block heaters so they start in the cold etc. Why
would you think that calling for emergency service in Alaska is different
than any other area of the US or Canada? Sure much of Alaska is rural or
remote but so is much of the contiguous US - think Montan again.
For sure I am not a troll. My reason for post was even brand new furnaces
can and do fail. It just seemed that in really cold places this has to be a
concern.No heat ,no heating tech when weather is really bad cold-snow.
Thought we all might be interested in how others cope.
I think some of the newer high efficiency units fail more often than the old
tried and true models. Just more things to go wrong.
It makes sense to have some sort of backup to prevent freezing rather than
scramble last minute. You probably have about 24 hours in most houses today
before the pipes freeze. The best backup needs no electricity also.
Frank, since you seem interested in truth, most folks in really cold areas
and well away from a city, do in fact have alternatives ready to use but
they wont keep the house as toasty warm as 70 degrees.
Commonly seen in older homes is the old coal furnace is still there and a
small load of coal. Also seen more often is several wood fired (or pellet)
stoves which may be used even not in an outage to suppliment heat.
Fireplaces are also common.
In 1997 or so, a wind-ice storm took out the electric (which also takes out
my gas heater) to my area for several days. I live just south of the snow
line but it was 17F at night and barely 24F in day for that time. It was
not pretty but we are residential area so many went to hotels and those who
couldnt afford it, stayed with us and the fireplace. We had lots of wood
and blocked up the kitchen and hall leading to the bedrooms and were comfy
enough. We cooked with my cast iron over the fireplace.
It's around this date when I was working in Labrador, Canada in 1982
when a wicked snowstorm hit with a deep artic low / high winds. The
temperature was -100 Celcius with the wind chill. No power for 4 days.
I've worked on land drill rigs / pipe fitting in northern Canada
(Alberta / NWT) but never have I experianced cold like that 2-3 days
Get a generator, like a Honda EU 2000, learn to manualy hook it to the
furnace or boiler you have. Or a tri fuel unit. Get a wood stove
installed somewhere, even in the basement. Get a Propane tank and a
heater. Get real it fails , so prepare.
I live in Northern Minnesota, and when it gets cold, life goes on. I
recall the coldest winter I ever lived through. Got down to 56
below. I got up that morning and went to work like any other morning--
truck was plugged in. You drive for awhile with square tires because
they are so stiff the flat spot stays for awhile. No, our heating
systems are nothing unusual. Wood heat at least for backup is nice,
but most people don't have a backup. Thing of it is, when it is real
cold, the weather is usually pretty quiet so I never remember a power
outage in those circumstances. Your furnace quits, you call any
number of 24 hour service guys. If you are so far out in the sticks
that there are no furnace guys, you'd probably have wood heat anyway.
It was about 15 below last night. Heck, that's nothin. The way the
TV weather news hyped it, it isn't safe to go outside. But really it
isn't that bad out there--the sunshine is beautiful. When I lived in
Washington state, I got depressed by all the clouds in the winter--
I'll take the cold with low humidity and sunshine any day.
I'm always surprised to hear that it how cold it gets in a place like
Illinois. -22f is plenty cold. I guess you get used to whatever.
It's hard to imagine living in a place that gets to 120 F, or has
hurricanes, or whatever. But you adapt and don't think twice about it.
Also being from northern MN, here it was -24 below this morning and
didn't get above zero all day. Didn't use a drop of heating oil
though, a wood stove in the basement ducted into my furnace plenum
kept the 2 story house a toasty 70+ degrees. Worked all day in my
detached insulated garage / shop also heated to 80+ degrees with a
wood stove and I was nearly down to my shorts. I do burn alot of
firewood but I am lucky in the fact that I have all the free red oak
hardwood available to me I could ever use nearby and all I have to do
is to cut and gather it. I don't mean to brag but life is not bad
If my electricity would happen to go out, which it rarely ever does, I
am certain we could remain comfortable at least in the basement for as
long as it took to get the power back on. It would be only when we
were not at home there could be a problem. But I do have a temp alarm
plugged into my landline phone so if we were not too far away for a
day or more when it was really cold I could call my home number and I
would know if things were ok.
It will be. Weatherman is predicting only 114 this year.
It was August of '81 I was driving cross country and in Arizona we saw 123
in some small town. Passed through Vegas and it was only 110. I've seen
100+ in LV in May and in September too. I can't imagine living there.
Most of the folks I know, have a furnace for heat, and not much of a backup
plan except to call a service guy if it goes out. The lucky ones have gas
stove, and matches to light it. Even on the newer stoves, often the top
burners can light with a match.
Many country rural folks have wood burning stoves. A few people have
alternate heat, such as kerosene freestanding heater, or propane heaters.
Some folks have a generator, to power the furnace for a couple hours.
As I get older, my resistance to cold is decreasing. Well, so's everyone
when they get old. During the 2003 power cut, I used burners on my stove
(piped in natural gas) and hot water in the bath tub, natural gas fueled
water heater. A hot shower brings back life.
I can't comment on Alaska, never been there. I'd guess it's much the same as
NY State. Some folks have backup heat, most do not.
Tonight, I did get to mush to a friend's house for a no heat. It was plus
30, but I've been sick for a couple days and didn't really want to be out in
the cold. Lucky me, the heat works in the service van.
most folks have no preparations, beyond expecting the government to
take care of them. however katrina proves we can depend on government,
when a real disaster strikes:(
now I watched some of the presenditial debates on tv, where it was
stated a nuclear attack on the US by terrorists is very likely, like
60% chance over the next 5 years.
yet civil defense never came up, and a nuclear attack here wouldnt
kill our entire country. the first hand effects mat kill everyone near
ground zero, but a 100 miles away panic looting etc is likely the
yet no appareent plans, just like new orleans and katrina, a not
we keep some extra food, bottled water, spare propane tanks, a bullet
heater, and a emergency generator, ands a car inverter. no doubt its
not enough, but far more than most people........
one day we will look back at lack of prepardness with shock we were so
incidently in many areas public buildings like schools have emergency
generators and can be used as warm places in true disasters
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