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Selco: How to Stay Warm During a Long-Term SHTF Situation

Daisy Luther
January 4th, 2018
The Organic Prepper
Comments (169)
Read by 13,413 people

This article was originally published by Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper

snow ice winter

As America is dealing with a record-breaking cold snap and a weird storm hitting the East Coast, some folks are having to handle the whole thing with the power out also. But we all know that at least this time, our situation is temporary. Most of us have power, and those who don’t will have it restored within a few days. But what if you had to stay warm during a long-term SHTF situation?

After your warm response to Selco’s story about Christmas during the SHTF in Bosnia, I hired him to start writing for us more often. Today, he shares with us what it was like to try and stay warm during an entire year in a war zone without any type of utilities. It’s a lot of information, and we can apply this to our preps.

Selco’s information is incredibly valuable because he has actually been through what we plan for during our preparedness endeavors. He teaches this information in-depth on his website, SHTF School. Let’s get started.

The US is dealing with quite a cold snap right now, and it got me thinking about your SHTF year in Bosnia. First of all, what is the winter like there? How cold does it get and what is the climate?

In a small part of the country close to Adriatic sea it is Mediterranean climate with mild winters and temperatures then goes just below 0 or -5 Celsius (32-23 Fahrenheit) and in other parts of country it is a Continental climate with temperatures during the winter -10 or -18 (14-5 Fahrenheit), with cold waves down to -26 (-15 Fahrenheit) and a lot of snow. 

Very usual are periods of strong cold wind (Bora) that actually can lower your body temperature very fast and complicate things.

 Sounds weird but after experiencing snow and -20 during SHTF and Bora at -2, I had most problems with that wind and -2 Celsius simply because it lowers your body temperature fast and suddenly.

Did you have any public utilities at all during this time?

All public utilities went off in first few weeks one by one. Electricity, water, heating (city central heating service) and phone lines, etc.

Did most people have homes with fireplaces or off-grid heating methods before this time period? Or were the homes modernized to the point that they were not functional?

During the late 70s and early 80s in the region, there was huge effort in modernizing cities heating services (partly because pollution) so majority of city apartment buildings and part of private houses were “connected“ on a public central heating system, either on natural gas or oil fuel (hot water system in radiators, through piping system)

As a result of that, building apartments had no fireplaces, even if they had places for smoke exhaust (vertical flue that provides a path through which smoke from a fire is carried away through the wall or roof of a building- exhaust) they were not in operating condition because nobody needed it for 20 years or so. They were clogged, destroyed, blocked, or similar. 

Because that lot of home fires happened in first period of SHTF in apartment buildings simply because people wanted to install some kind of wood fire stove and send the fumes through an exhaust system that was not in use for decades.

I live in an apartment building now, in a building block of some 800 apartments. Again, the buildings have fireplace exhaust systems, but nobody used it for last 20 years, because the central heating is working perfectly.

So they are clogged, blocked, or destroyed.

Mine is in perfect operating condition and ready all the time because I keep it like that.

In private houses, the situation was bit different. Yes, people rely a lot on heating through eletric heaters but most of the houses still had fire wood stoves of some kind and operating exhaust system partly because tradition but also for heating.

Still, a lot of the homes that even had a fireplace (way and place to start a fire either for heating or cooking or both) they had it in, let’s say, not an economic way. Nobody thought that firewood was gonna be so expensive and hard to get. A lot of people simply had fireplaces as a decoration, not in a way to heat house in most economic way (in terms of used-fuel-heat-given ratio)

How did people stay warm? 

We can say that first step was that people simply “shrunk“ their living space.

For example, if a family of people had a house with six rooms they simply stopped using four rooms, and they lived in two rooms only, because of a simple reason – it was easier to heat two rooms only.

To get wood for heating was a hard process and often dangerous, so how much fuel you spent in your home was a matter of staying alive. 


Old style wood stove with a smoke-exhaust-pipe (that would be put through the hole in the wall to outside- if a chimney-exhaust system was not existing in that room.

Comfort was completely forgotten because of necessity. 

Also people insulate their homes with what they had. A majority of windows were crushed (glass) because of detonations (shelling), so people blocked window openings with what they had.

Blanket, pillows, nylons, and tarps were used for that. Also, duct tape was a very useful item. 

Homes were kinda rearranged in order to make it more energy efficient in very rudimenrtary ways. For example, if a house had smoke exhaust just in the kitchen but that kitchen was not good for having wood stove there, then simply stove was moved from that kitchen into the desired room. A hole was made in that room (for smoke exhaust) and the stove was put there.

You need to understand that homes (houses, apatments) when SHTF were very fast to deteriorate. There was no service to call, remember. Leaks from the roofs, freezing temperatures… all that makes your house quite problematic to live in. We were trying to fix what we could, but insulation was problematic very quickly. A lot of problems could have easily been solved with simple items like insulation foam (in spray containers) for example, but nobody was prepared for SHTF. (Yes, I have it now).

Leaving some room out of use was not only because heating, often some rooms were not used because they were exposed to firing. (Choosing the part of the house that will be not used – or at least not used often – was also based on from what direction you could expect gunfire or shelling.)

Sometimes rooms weren’t used simply because there were not enough people to watch that space for outside threat.

Parts of the house that were too exposed to threat (let’s say close to the street, or rooms with too many windows) were simply blocked or not use. Or in other case if enemy position were from south we simply did not use rooms on that side for sleeping because chance was bigger that side was gonna be hit with grenade or smaller size bullets. And on top of that, we needed to take care about heating not necessary space.

So in short “rearranging” living space was mainly depending on:

  1. Immediate threat (physical threat- let’s say someone could enter your home through the room close to the street because you can not watch that room all the time.)
  2. Shelling threat – taking into consideration from what direction most of the bigger caliber things are coming
  3. Cutting off unnecessary parts of the house to save heating

I can say that living inside a home during winter was subdued completely due to the fact that fuel needed to be saved.

Did people make any types of heaters? Can you please describe them in detail so that we can try to duplicate what you did?

First people remodeled our existing stoves. For example-stove from the picture above was remodeled in a way that the black plate on the top was removed and much thinner material would be put there (any kind of thin metal) so that stove would take much less wood in order plate be red-hot. If you wanted to boil water on it, it was a huge difference whether it takes two pieces of wood or six. 

Also, an internal exhaust pipe (pipe that goes from stove to wall) was something that was quite cool to find somewhere, because if you have it enough you could firstly put stove away from chimney in the wall (in desired room) without need to drill new hole, and secondly, more of that pipe meant more heating surface, because the pipe was radiating heat: more pipe, more heat.

 A lot of the old-style stoves were built for cooking first, heating was a secondary role, so we also changed that in a way that we removed internal plates for example so basically less heat was going through the chimney and more into the stove.

Very soon people started to make their own stoves (in some periods even small stoves were smuggled in and exchanged on the black market).

Very popular was a “drum stove.“ People made it from very thin metal. The point was, it was small, you coud install it close to any opening and it required a very small amount of wood to get it red hot.

 I needed 3-4 small tiles from a wooden floor or one big book to make it very hot (and boil water and cook  something fast.

 A favorite was a “pressure cooker stove“.

A pressure cooker was a “must have“ item in every home prior the war.

For example, if you find yourself in apartment building in the middle of SHTF without heating in winter, you would take pressure cooker (upside down) drill hole for exhaust, use some metal to form an exhaust pipe, then make a hole in wall.

More thin metal bending and you made door and ash-tray.

Most of these homemade stoves made lot of smoke inside the home, they smelled a lot. Luckily, not too many poisonings occurred because insulation of the homes was really bad.

War hand made stoves (the second one on photo is pressure cooker stove) If we had only small made stove we surrounded it with bricks in order to retain heat for more time (in the bricks), and later bricks could be taken in bed.

Today I would not suggest that you make stove from pressure cooker or similar, point is to have stored way somewhere to heat your self with firewood in the most economic way, no matter if you do not need that today because you solve your heating with electricity.

Where did you get fuel for fires?

It was taken care of in layers and depending on the security situation.

For example, if the situation was good, you would go out and chop trees from park or nearest hill with trees. If the situation was bad, then we burned furniture, books, shelves.

By the end of the worst period,  people took down all available trees in town, wooden door and window frames from destroyed and abandoned houses, pieces of furniture, wooden floor tiles, and similar.

Over the time we learned value or caloric value of fuel, so, for example, wooden floor tiles were great (especially if the polish coating was good) because it caught fire easily and burned good with lot of energy. Or I used to know that I could make a quick meal out of  firing old shoes if they were of particular material if i manage to start fire. (Yes, it smelled awful.) 

Finding fuel for fire was an ongoing, time -consuming process, and never-ending.

 It was a mess having a whole bunch of people trying, for example, to take down a big tree, then chop it in small pieces, and then to transport it in some way back to home.

Some of use never used an ax before that.

What about winter clothing? Were you just stuck with what you already had? Did people make their own during this time?

Yes, more or less we were stuck with what we had, and people do not actually realize how much their clothing is based on fact that they are living in a system that takes care of them.

 Again, comfort and how does it look became not important (if did not attract unnecessary attention).

 People again “rearranged“ their stuff in order to make it useful so you could see all kind of weird things like ponchos or vests made from blankets ( simple hole in blanket, and pieces of rope) or nylon in boots, or paper inside jackets and pants, raincoats made from pieces of nylons or pieces of military tents (taken from abandoned barracks), but most important thing was dressing in layers of all kind of different clothes. 

If you had, for example, an old granny in your family who knew to knit (it was kinda tradition here) and if she had enough material it was very precious because you had source for gloves, socks and similar, and also good source for trade.

 We were missing heavy duty items in our clothes, we were ordinary city folks who suddenly were thrown in life with a lot of heavy jobs, so clothes (just like everything else) deteriorated much faster than in normal times.

Did people die or suffer cold-related injuries like frostbite?

Yes,  we were forced to look for resources no matter what kind of weather was outside,

Frostbites happened, but also I strongly believe that something a bit different was much bigger problem.

Usually people in prepping comunnity (and elsewhere too) when it comes to cold weather danger forget it. It is called sometimes urban hypothermia.

In normal times you may see that condition in elderly people who are living alone in poor condition (They do not move too much and their circulation is poor.) 

It is a condition when people are exposed to prolonged cold environments inadequately heated houses, homes in poor condition (wet, damp for example), and when you connect that with possible bad quality food, a lot of stress, you may find yourself in a bad state pretty fast.

 Older people were especially vulnerable to that (particularly if they already had some medical issues). Their immunity systems went down fast and then they got sick.

 It was like we all found ourselves living in 3rd world country conditions. 

Frostbites happened fast, and you could reverse the process if you got help fast. Living in a poor (cold more or less) overall condition was something that we could not help a lot.

Do you have any personal stories from that winter that you could share with us?

Fire is very important to keep yourself warm when SHTF. No matter how well you are prepared with some other way of heating and fuel (gas, diesel…) sooner or later, in prolonged SHTF during the winter you will end up with heating yourself with wood fire. 

It makes a lot of sense to have that means ready today somewhere, no matter how modern your home is.

One thing is for sure, when SHTF all things look twice as hard when you are cold, and usually they are.

In some of the hardest situations when temperatures were around -20 and I had to get done some hard tasks, I used to drink alcohol together with small amounts of sugar because an urban myth was that helps in low temperatures. That was wrong, of course, and  luckily I survived, but the point is to understand what kind of food helps you in cold temperatures and what of that you may have stored.,

For example I would give a lot in that times to have a simple hot chicken soup that maybe costs today around 1 euro and it takes 3 minutes to make it ready. 

I learned in that times that having a small fire in the middle of the night in cold weather not only can keep you warm but also can give you psychological strength to move on, to give you reason to live, or let’s say to make you see the light in what look like desperate situation.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about what must have been a terrible winter? (Did I miss anything important?)

Connected to winter, cold, and fire, people tend to forget that they need to have means to start fire, A LOT of that. 

Simply over the time some everyday things like lighters become rare and pretty expensive to trade, and fire was not something that you kept going all the time (resources again), and quality of wood was often horrible so often we had lot of problems to start a fire. 

Anything that helps with starting a fire makes sense to have in great quantities, things like a lot of lighters, kindling, candles, fuel cubes.

Do you have a plan to stay warm during a long-term scenario?

Reading this, I realized my plan is pretty good for the short term, but definitely wouldn’t be sufficient here in my rental home for a long-term situation. I’ll be adding a few supplies to my list thanks to Selco’s advice.

I noted many of the recommendations he had in this interview:

  • Duct tape
  • Winter gear that is sturdier than what you need right now
  • The ability to knit/crochet sturdy items
  • A way to heat with wood, regardless of your current situation (This little stove has fantastic reviews but you will have to have a way to vent and a way to protect your walls and floors so they don’t catch on fire. Stock up on those things as well)
  • A way to vent a wood heater (get the right type of stove pipe for your heater, think ahead where you will vent it, and get the proper supplies to seal around the opening and pipe so the heat doesn’t escape.)
  • A way to block off part of the house and just keep one area warm
  • The ability to use an ax
  • Lighters
  • Matches
  • Firestarters
  • Fuel Cubes
  • Kindling
  • Candles
  • Cans of spray foam insulation

Did this give you some food for thought? Will you be adding some supplies or making any changes to your winter plan based on Selco’s interview?

More information about Selco
Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Read more of Selco’s articles here: SHTF School

And take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge and advice by signing up for the outstanding and unrivaled online course. More details here: SHTF School Survival Boot Camp

The Pantry Primer

Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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Author: Daisy Luther
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Date: January 4th, 2018

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  1. Chainsaw says:

    These types of articles are why I keep returning. Good real world info.

  2. Archivist says:

    We don’t heat our upstairs floor, so I stapled a couple of old bed sheets around the stairwell to keep the heat from going upstairs.

    I wear a sweater all the time, and we have a lot of blankets around the house so we can use one wherever we sit.

    We have a lot of snow on the ground, and the temps aren’t going above freezing until Monday. Being prepared means I don’t have to step outside the house until then.

    Luckily, the cold we’ve had lately is a rarity around here.

    • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

      My mother grew up in Maine. Not down in Portland but up in northern Maine. They never heated the bedrooms. They used quilts and piled them up. Kids were bundled together (same sex and similar age). Chamber pots were kept under the bed to avoid going to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

      When I traveled in Europe I was able to stay at an old country house that had been turned into a B&B. All of the Windows had heavy drapes (to keep out the cold in the winter) and they also had the same drapes separating the rooms. It was a good way to keep the room you were in warm without heating up the whole house. That house was made of stone and two stories with probably 10 rooms. It would have been impossible to heat the whole house due to the expense. I was there in the spring and found the house comfortable.

      Growing up we would cover the windows with plastic. Cheap way to deal with a badly insulated house.

      I keep some old down comforters on hand. If I had to I could pile them up and be sweating in about ten minutes. Down is the ultimate insulator as long as it doesn’t get wet.

      Happy New Year fellow preppers!

    • Braveheart1776 says:

      Archivist, same here for my region. I’m back at home with central heat now. It’s 76 inside and 19 outside.

      • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

        76 degrees inside the house! Holy moly! I have central air / heat pump and I keep my place at 65/66 degrees and turn it down to 63 at night.

        Damn if I was at your place I would have to be in my shorts and summer clothes! Too hot!

      • Plan twice, prep once says:

        The day of the blizzard I told the wife we should screw the heating bill for one day, put the thermostat up to 78. We could wear bathing suits, lounge on beach towels and drink margaritas, while watching the travel channel’s special on beaches….

        Yeah, she said go shovel the snow off the driveway…….

        I settled for a couple beers and 40 minutes in the whirlpool tub after clearing the snow.

  3. Ketchupondemand says:

    Keep two gallons of water in your vehicle. Put a little vodka in to keep it from freezing. Hey, it’s worth a shot!

    The old Boy Scout buddy burner:
    Empty tuna fish can.
    Roll up corrugated cardboard tightly and stuff it inside.
    Pour old melted candle wax into it until it’s full.
    Improvised stove/heater.

  4. Anticommie says:

    Artilce: Stupid as hell. Build underground. Grow food to last the winter. Simple as hell. If too lazy, burn coal as fast as you can and pray it will makes it warmer and puts an end to this ice age. No Jesus believer should ever accept a snowflake anytime, any place on this damned planet.

  5. Eisenkreutz says:







  6. Nailbanger says:

    We dont really need to worry about heat, but cooking, thats the biggie, for most of it can use the wood grill i built, have been considering building a wood cook stove from steel plate, have a bunch laying around, would lve to just buy one but no money, so use what i do have, knowledge, a plasma cutter/4x8x3/8” steel plates and a solid gas powered arch welder,,,,

    • Nailbanger says:

      Would love to build
      Damn fat finger

    • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

      Rocket stove. Perfect design to be able to boil water quickly with minimal fuel. You can use kindling or small twigs and heat something up very fast. Good for boiling water, searing meat.

      Earthen ovens or kilns are the way you bake break or roast food that is in a pot and needs more time to cook (tough cuts of meat, beans, etc). One way is to bury the meat or pot underground. Another way is to marked a domed type baking oven out of mud, clay, or bricks. There are excellent videos on Utube that show everything from an earthen oven made out of clay to some that are designer quality.

      Once you understand the concept you can easily make a rocket stove or earthen baking oven with materials on hand.

      • Nailbanger says:

        Rocket stove is definitely a good option, good for outside, not so sure i would put it out on my deck or in the house though, like the wood cook stove for controlability of temps, think pressure canner,
        Definitely been looking to build a bread oven/pizza oven, got most of the materials

      • Braveheart1776 says:

        PD, rocket stoves are good. I have one and also have a Kelly Kettle Base Camp Model. it also uses ‘nature’s fuel’. I use small twigs and kindling in it. Will boil a pot of water in just 3 minutes. The rocket stoves that use the fuel tabs are good but it could be problematic trying to keep enough fuel tabs for long-term storage. So the ones that use ‘nature’s fuel’ are the best ones to have imo. There will always be ‘nature’s fuel’ available.

  7. Angry Beaver says:

    Great artical here in northern Alberta there was a gas shortage in some of our communities. Welcome to climate change policy ? anyhoo we survived it by doing much if what was mentioned above + most homes are equipped with wood heat stoves and no shortage of fuel wood I think the coldest it got was around minus 32 celsius

  8. Anticommie says:

    alcohol does keep you warm above 40% alc. 20-30% of the calories are turned straight to heat. But drink fast enough and all night. You pass out you die.

  9. Angry Beaver says:

    PS. Lol LMFAO Most folks really don’t know true cold I grew up and still live in one of the coldest climates on earth. I’m telling you you don’t know true cold till you’ve felt -48 then the wind picks up and it drops to -55 for a few weeks yes it’s tough but we do manage.

    • Padoo says:

      Amen to a fellow Canuck! Tomorrow’s high here is -21C with a windchill of -41C.

    • rellik says:

      I worked Graveyard shift on a Minot ND flightline over a winter. It is a rule that when temp/wind chill gets to minus 65F, you could not work outside alone, out of sight of rescue people stationed inside heated buildings. Frequently they quit updating the weather reports at 0200-0300 hrs. when it got to minus 63F. My shift ended at 0800. There was a surprise blizzard in 1975. We recorded over minus 100 temp/wind chill officially, but it did not add in the wind chill of the wind gusts, because we had gusts to 90MPH.
      Because of that experience I resolved to never live more than 50 miles away from an ocean/large body of salt water!

      • Nailbanger says:

        Definitely wont have that over on BI???

      • buttcrackofdoom says:

        sound like you was loadin’ b-52’s with bombs and rockets back then in the USAF?…i did that in so cal…wind-chill here only got down to about 5plus…usually around 20* or so with wind-chill…still pretty cold with only a field jacket and cotton longjohn top. these peeps in the hi-desert don’t seem to get how cold it CAN get here…..we should all thank daisy for shellin’ out the bucks for selco, and i HIGHLY recommend going to his site and reading forums there….and possibly take his classes….it’s where IN LEARNED what it CAN be like in SHTF….and i DO believe it’s comin’ HERE,….soon.

      • Angry Beaver says:

        Coldest I myself ever got caught in was about 17 years ago I was working in a drilling rig up by cold Lake air weapons range the night time today dipped into -65 and like yourself we weren’t allowed to do anything but go from shack to shack just to check in things. Since then I myself absolutely hate the cold like it took a lifetimes worth of cold tolerance and sapped it all now I make sure I’m close to a heat source

        • BCViking says:

          Loaded logs there once in -55, had to watch stakes. Metal gets bridle in that temp. Coldest for me was unloading fuel at Snap Lake, NWT. Was -72 + wind, Had to watch hoses so I was outside for 2.5 hours, Dang, crazy stuff a guy will do for $. LOL

        • tazweiss says:

          The coldest I ever worked in, was -60C during the day and -75C at night. That was on military exersizes in Suffield, Alberta. We were living in 10 man tents the whole time. We only came back in to base when range control told our CO that it was too dangerous to remain out in that cold any longer.
          I was a platoon machine gunner at the time and we stayed out on the range for four days. Each gun had a pallet of ammo. We near froze our asses off but we had fun. It’s never too cold when you’re sitting behind a belt fed machine gun.

    • Old Sailor says:

      For sure. Moved up to CO when I was in high school. Lived at 8k feet in the mountains. It was below freezing here in the DFW area for over 3 1/2 days this week and everyone was complaining about the cold. I told them to come see me when it gets to -53F. Saw a week the winter of ’70 in CO when the high was -14F and it was -53, -48 and -45F three nights in a row that week. The restaurants were still open, people were still eating in them and life went on.

    • BCViking says:

      I got stuck in a broken semi some years ago. Coldest night in NWT that year. It was -56 ( that be -70 or so for you southerners ). I survived for 48 hours with warm coveralls, down bedding and 16 tea candle lights in my truck sleeper. Had two long nights lol. Birthday suite into bed for 30 min’s with timer/clock going, then get dressed and out walking running for 1 hour, rinse and repeat. :).

  10. Traitor Hator says:

    Worked 4 winters in Williston ND. One layer of 50 dollar under armer won’t cut it. Get 3 layers of 7 dollar sweat pants. Layering doesn’t work you need to release sweat fast. Thick synthetic vest and coat. Two zippers to open to release sweat. Frabil ice fishing gloves best for drying and dexterity.Mag changes. Goose down is worthless as you sweat all the time even while sleeping even. Nylon coats melt holes from sparks from camp fire. Plastic canteens can’t melt frozen water at camp fire need aluminum canteens. 20 below sleeping bag synthetic.ecspesially when sick or lack of food.Any portable heater needs pressure regulator or blown seals with barbecue adapter. 8 hour chemical hand warmers work in gloves or boots. Legs most important to keep warm .sweat pants are cheap and three layers.Face mask. White spray paint.Battery heater for car easy and cheap. Auto transmition peal off stick on heaters important. Get the most powerful.Thin synthetic oil. Put small electric heater in car with timer.other wise ice will form in car. Most motels have plug in outlets.put three way under hood to plug in everything or five way. You can live in a car if you can plug in heater. Cold batteries will not charge need battery heater. Need to plug in.cover radiator with cardboard or whatever.Cover engine underhood with bubble wrap . Need to let engine cool slow. Aluminum cools faster then cast iron .seals will blow.I have battery heater peel and stick oil and trans heaters and small heater in car . All plugged in with one cord to five way under hood . Arctic package?

  11. Traitor Hator says:

    Have a so called Norwegian stove .consentrates heat at top can open when clean burning for full heat. Read about kerodex fisherman use it on hands to pull in nets in cold water. If you can deal with cold it’s your advantage. Others will be parilized. And you will have a free range. Dry lube your AR . And win the cold day.

  12. aljamo says:

    I have a problem heating in this cold snap right now. This place has older style jalousie windows that are impossible to close tightly, likely by design for southern climates. This style of windows go back at least to the early 50’s, cranked shut the inside covering blows inward with stronger cold winds. I use a small electric heater that raises the temps a few degrees. Enjoyed the article and suggestions for better heating.

    • Archivist says:

      When I was growing up, we always put plastic over the windows on the outside. You could buy kits of roll plastic, strips of cardboard to roll the edges of plastic around, and strips of wood to tack it to the window frames.

      It helps a lot.

      • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

        Same here. I grew up in an old trailer. We had to put plastic on the window to stay warm. Did it every winter.

        • tazweiss says:

          My parents farmed up in the Peace River country for a few years. They had an old mobile home to live in. Their second year on the farm, I went to visit them. My father had bought a semi load of straw bales and literally built a straw stack around their mobile home, with several layers of tarps over the roof. The only way you could tell it wasn’t an ordinary straw stack was by the openings he left for the doors and windows.

          • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

            Cool! People do what works. Necessity is the mother of invention.

            I helped build a straw bale house about 20 years ago. Great project. Straw as insulation and a building material has been around for a long, long time.

    • Braveheart1776 says:

      Aljamo, my house has one of those old jalousie windows in the bathroom but it was pained shut about 3 decades ago. I’ve never even tried to open it.

    • Jeff(VaRebel) says:

      Aljamo – Is your house cement block ? Cut some roll insulation to fit on the inside of your window – paper side in (I’ll bet you got an inset of several inches to set it on, right?). Cut a piece of cardboard bigger than the whole window (if possible) and duct tape it to the wall (to keep the wind from blowing it out. I love that gorilla tape … can’t hardly pull it off. Improvise as you will or if you need something more “pretty”. Hope that helps ya out.

      Stay warm. Good article (and don’t forget the tarps. Very multi purpose). Best to all who seek truth and righteousness.

  13. GrannyB says:

    Heck, I’m in Texas, and I’ve got most of those preps covered! Bought a wood stove several years back, and the pipe for the exhaust. It’s on the patio right now, but it will sit in the house and the pipe can be vented to the fireplace (which doesn’t really provide much heat). I have lots of candles, matches, lighters, firestarters, etc. I had the grandkids make rocket stoves a few years ago – they thought it was fun and we ended up with 4 or 5 pretty decent stoves. I have probably 10 tubs of yarn skeins, and know how to crochet. I have lots of “ski” clothes, old wool jackets, and a pile of wool blankets from the army surplus store. I used to have a pile of heavy canvas painters ‘tarps’ – they are dense enough to cover the windows and divide off rooms we don’t/can’t heat. Not sure where they all went to, so need to get some more. After a bad ice storm a few years ago that knocked lots of big branches off the trees, some of my teenagers went around and hired to remove the branches & haul them off. Hauled them straight to my yard! I’m only now beginning to need more! Free firewood and the boys made about a hundred dollars each! ALso bought a large supply (over time) of hot water bottles. Filled with warm water, they really help to take the chill out of a bed! Lots more that I’ve done over the last 10 years…

    • Archivist says:

      Even thin plastic or old bed sheets will keep air from moving from one room to the other.

    • buttcrackofdoom says:

      i’ve got a friend that sleeps on his bed in an army cold-weather sleepin’ bag…..throw another on top if it gets COLD…and fill the sleeping bag with clothes in a pinch(an old scout trick.

      • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

        Dang ButtCrack! I remember those things! I slept in one during Reforger in Germany. That was an exercise they used to have in October and November. It was flipping cold! Those things do keep you warm, that is for sure, until you get out! Brrrrrrrr. They had us sleeping in a big tent and we would strip off, stuff our uniforms under the sleeping bag, and jump inside. Reverse that for the morning or if we got a service call. Cold cold cold!

        Ours were made of down. They definately work. Most of November was freezing or below.

        • buttcrackofdoom says:

          i think the 4 part sleep system they have now works very well. black cold weather bag inside the green warm weather bag, and both inside the bivy bag(i carry one in my vehicles), to take it down to minus 40 protection….haven’t had to do that yet, but i trust it would work…..that bivy by itself would probly save your life, as long as you were dressed for the season……

          • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

            I hate to say I don’t remember where we were. It was cold and the food was horrible. I was a techie so at least we had a hut on the back of a deuce-and-half to warm up in during the day. We also had access to a jeep for repair runs as we had about a hundred-mile radius. Some folks were stuck there the whole time! At least we could leave, stop at a gasthaus, get a hot meal and a beer. Operators were screwed. They didn’t get to go anywhere!

  14. GrannyB says:

    Ok, more to think about…
    There’s a reason the stories talked about granny & grandpa in kerchiefs and caps at bedtime. VERY important to keep your head warm at night. Sleeping caps and multiple blankets will help when sleeping in cold rooms.
    I crocheted some mittens – pretty thick & bulky and warm. But I found inexpensive white cotton gloves that can be worn inside the mittens, so if something needs to be done & the mittens have to come off, you still have your hands covered. Works pretty darn well.
    Took some of the surplus army blankets that I bought and sewed them together to make an outer sleeping cover. We used lightweight sleeping bags inside them for comfort against the skin, but the wool blankets really cut the cold air & held the heat in. (Tried them out on a camping trip). THey were a little short, and I need to get a few more of them, cut them in half and stitch them to the sleeping bags I made so they cover from head to foot.
    Spent a few evenings watching my favorite tv shows (mostly survival type stuff) and wrapped kitchen matches (several boxes worth) in tissue then dipped them in melted wax. Makes great long-burning matches for starting fires if the wood isn’t real great.
    We all have 3-4 sets of long-johns. I have multiple sets of heavy wool socks that I bought over the years. They came in handy when the temp dropped to 6 degrees the other night!
    If I think of some of the other things I’ve read or learned over the years, I’ll be glad to share!!!

    • Plan twice, prep once says:

      Harbor freight sells cotton inspection gloves. They are great liners inside heavy rubber coated work gloves. That’s what I wear in subzero temps when I run the snowblower.

      In warmer weather they are enough to keep the chill out a bit like mittens with fingers.

      They are also great for handling firearms and ammo and not contaminating them with oil from your skin that can be corrosive.

  15. Braveheart1776 says:

    GrannyB, spot on about those wool socks. During the winter I wear wool socks and aa pair of Thinsulate-insulated boots. It’s extra important to keep your feet warm and dry especially when outside. there are many different brands of winter boots on the market with anywhere from 200 to 2400 grams of Thinsulate in them. The more the better. My boots have 1000 grams of Thinsulate and work very well for me. Insulated footwear is a very important survival item for winter imo. If you don’t keep your feet warm you’re asking for trouble.

    • buttcrackofdoom says:

      the military “fort lewis” boots are available with thick liners in them….some may not know, but there are MANY different kinds of “combat boots”….anything from summer/”desert” to arctic/”mickey mouse boots”. and some may not also know, but wool socks work pretty damn well for SUMMER too…wear a thin sock under them. and last, but not least…if you REALLY want to stay warm in winter, read/google ECWCS, or “extreme cold weather clothing system”….the military has some of the BEST things to stay warm, and ebay is your friend when it comes to buying this stuff…’s a LOT cheaper than stuff at dicks, and probly BETTER. if you live near a base, you got it made…bookoo dot calm….

      • rellik says:

        I get a lot of stuff from Navy Exchange. But the really good equipment is “issued” which means you have to turn it back in,
        so the stuff on Ebay can be really, really used, so be careful.

        • Nailbanger says:

          Most times you get what ya pay for, cheap well kinda low expectation, surplus used, just cant do it,

          • buttcrackofdoom says:

            i buy/sell this stuff, and most i buy is new, or very near new….at a fraction of new prices….turn your noses up at this at your pocketbook’s expense…and the REASON i sell it is i went looking for things to keep me warm, dry, and bullet-proof…we send our boys to WAR with this stuff, and i KNOW it’s good, because i USE it in cold-weather walks/bike rides…..and of COARSE you have to be careful…

            • Nailbanger says:

              New is good for clothes, nearly new for tents etc,, have found a few gov suppliers that i buy stuff from, but am sorta picky, and sorta set in my ways so live in levis, LL bean ts or plain tanks and cabellas boots, the boots going to have to change, feet be a changing with age so got to find something more comfortable,,,

              • buttcrackofdoom says:

                “desert boots” mite be good for YOU. screened holes near bottoms to pump out heat, goretex uppers, no insulation, and tan, so they don’t get as hot as darker boots….the gubmint spent MILLIONS getting our boys with GOOD stuff…also try insoles….an old indian trick, get a half size bigger, and put in thicker insoles. if y’all need boots, go to a surplus store and get fitted by trying them on. they are available narrow to extra wide, and when you get right width, many find out the length they BEEN wearing is wrong….gotta KNOW what size fits before you order online.

                • buttcrackofdoom says:

                  and vibram soles….they invented them when i was a kid, and still just as good.

                • Yahooie says:

                  BCoD, all good stuff to know–thanks. Most of what I have is left from my days with the boy scouts. It’s still in good condition but always keep an eye open if I need to upgrade anything.

                • Nailbanger says:

                  I have to have waterproof, very few are really water proof, and i mean verrrrrryyyy few, also dont really like canvas on the boots, have a few sets of tac boots with it but not really a fan. They all eventually leak, only my perfekt hunters stay dry

                • buttcrackofdoom says:

                  got a buddy has a shoe repair store in L.A. and he swears by this spenco heavy duty boot protector….i plan to put it on my fort lewis boots, i THINK they will be water-proof after that…15% silicone, it says on can….seldom rains here in so cal, so i don’t need waterproof too much, but i DO go up in mountains when it’s snowing to drag out the dumb masses when the try to go play in the snow, which many have never SEEN before. anyone know whether they are sposed to be waterproof? i’ve walked in rain, including puddles, for an hour or so, and dry as a bone, but not 100% SURE, especially if you are in how-ah-yuh…for days on end.

                • buttcrackofdoom says:

                  nailbanger, definitely fort lewis boots, the black ones, since they would be wet all the time….but they DO have tan combats called “winter boots”, with lining for warmth, which you don’t need, but i THINK even the tan winter boots can be water-proofed. i wear winter tan boots even in summer here, because it gets VERY how, and black just don’t cut it in 115* desert heat…..they are surprisingly comfortable, but desert boots are BEST for hot, DRY weather….looks like i can try those ft lewis next week when it LOOKS like it’s going to snow.

        • Braveheart1776 says:

          I’ve found to be a very good source for military surplus clothing and equipment and their prices are reasonable. The condition of their products vary from ‘new, never issued’ to ‘used, in good condition’. Of course the buyer should always beware. I’m also very picky when it comes to survival gear. As long as I can get something from sportsmansguide, I will avoid amazon and ebay.

      • buttcrackofdoom says:

        link to ecwcs…sizes available and pics of different items.

    • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

      You are right! I almost got frostbite on my feet during Reforger in Germany doing four hour guard duty shifts. I was wearing jump boots. Stupid! I was lucky I didn’t actually get frostbit. I ended up buying some German engineer boots that had Thinsulate in them. Those were awesome boots, great traction, warm. If your feet are crippled (or frozen) you sure are not going to get anything else done!

      I didn’t know you could buy them with various gram weights of insulation. Good info, thanks!

      • Braveheart1776 says:

        PD, carries some boots with 2400 grams of Thinsulate insulation. That’s the largest amount of Thinsulate in any boots I’ve ever seen anywhere. I’m looking at a pair of those myself and certain other items also. Check out all of their military surplus clothing, footwear, and equipment. They have a good selection and the prices are not bad. I’ve bought from them several times and they never gave me any reason to complain. I’d rather go to them instead of amazon or ebay.

        • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

          I don’t live where it gets that cold but good to know about a good place to shop!

          I hear you about Amazon. I like EBay for used stuff but I hear you. I prefer to buy shoes / boots that are new.

  16. CiddyBoy says:

    Wood pallets are great for a backup firewood supply like for a little boxwood stove. Also can be used to stack stuff on if you get a little flooding during spring thaw.

    I’ve been watching some feral cats that are dug into a hillside about 200 yds out in the woods.
    A couple of them are enemies when it comes to fending for food… but all of them curl up together to stay warm.
    I don’t know if I could curl up with somebody I couldn’t stand.
    Animals are a higher order.?

  17. Asshat says:

    Go to Wally’s and get a pair of the walls canvas coveralls with beefy brass zipper. They are tough as nails and warm like a sleeping bag cost under $100. Get one size larger so you can wear layers underneath. Every year when it gets cold people burn their homes down using gaff wood stoves or the chimney catches fire cus it wasn’t inspected and repaired. People die from carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly vented gas heaters. They use 1500 watt electric heaters and their electric bill goes through the roof not to mention fire due to older electric heaters not having tip over shut down protection. If your home burns you have bigger problems with loss of everything you own getting wet from fire men wetting it all down. dont compound your problems. Stay in one room have the kids or dog get in bed with you to share body heat. Shut the water off at the meter and open the faucets shut water heater off and open lowest faucet in house drain water into bucket most of the water should drain off. This will protect the pipes in your home from breaking and your house flooding. Being in your home will always be better than in a shelter.

  18. buttcrackofdoom says:
    a very good list from boys life on surviving the cold….just to shut the simps up that been sayin’ they don’t find any useful information at SHTFPLAN….more to follow.

  19. buttcrackofdoom says:
    one of the BEST pieces on cold survival i have seen…i don’t agree with everything, but a LOT of great info, in one place.

  20. buttcrackofdoom says:

    here’s one more list of stuff to have when it’s cold….some things you may not think of.
    I keep fifty feet of 3/8 nylon rope in each car. It has tons of uses, but once you watch that video on making snow chains with rope(google it), you’ll be able to handle freaky weather too with it.
    keep a piece of chain along with your tow strap.
    Blankets and candles and a cracked open window will keep you alive
    Water in your car won’t be liquid if your nights are 20 degrees or less. You need something to melt snow/ice in and a way to generate heat to melt it.
    Those 8 hour hand warmers they look like a big suger pack do work. One in each boot and glove and you don’t get your fingers and toes amputated from frost bite. Very compact . And can even melt ice and snow to drink.
    keep a large #10 can with sand half way up. Stick candles in the sand and lite them.
    Folding military surplus shovel? Also doubles as a weapon.
    Also check out the artic canteens (double walled military surplus)
    A metal cup suspended over the candle can melt and slow boil water (use the scrapings) and you can drink it.
    Ham radio programmed to receive NOAA weather/emergency broadcasts and transmit to emergency responders
    Military Surplus Artic Mickey Mouse boots with wool socks
    learn how to drive “off-road”. and throw in your car a couple of 4×6 or 6×8 pieces of wood about 3 feet long, they will get you across those small ditches and chuckholes.
    We always carry a Military Sleep System in our vehicles every where we go in addition to our GHBs.
    Don’t forget a small compressor and tire plugs.
    Muk Luk fleece lined boots to keep your feet warm.
    3 ways to start a fire would be a good start. Do not include a BIC lighter in that. Two tarps. A shovel. A real sleeping bag.
    paracord…and a tarp
    bag o beef jerky or pepperoni
    1 case (10 packs) mainstay 3600 food bars, 6 one quart canteens full, backpack with extra socks, knife, space blankets, paracord, hatchet, handgun/ammo, jacket, boots, first aid kit, baofeng radio with spare battery, solar/crank radio, flashlights, alco stove and 1/2 gallon fuel.
    i keep a bag full of cold weather gear like hats, scarrfs, gloves, bivy bags, for ALL members of my family…it’s big, so i can leave it home, or stick it in there if i’m going out of town.
    WATERPROOF! hiking boots, LED flashlights, extra batteries, knife, prybar, phone charger, signal mirror, flare gun, longjohns, coats/layers, map,
    mystery heater)propane),sled, candles, mylar-lined cooler to warm things in, hand warmers, something to generate power, like a foot-powered generator, food, duct tape, full tank of gas, leave faucets dripping., salt for de-icing, carbon monoxide sensing device, insulated water storage, animal furs, polypropalene, wood, lots of it, yaktraks, fire extinguisher, BBQ for heat, snowshoes, sunglasses, flares, ham radio, real shovel, woodstove, jumper cables, comealong, snowmobile., kitty litter, chains for tires, balaclava.

  21. Gadabout says:

    As far as cooking on wood, we’ve recently gotten into cast iron cooking, especially outside over a wood fire in a dutch oven. There are several sites on facebook dedicated to the subject – dutch oven cooking for one. And several states have groups that have occasional camp out gatherings where they all get together and exchange recipes and tips. Do a search. Also, lots of articles on youtube; we especially like Kent Rollings, he’s a real cowboy camp cook in Oklahoma and really knows what he is talking about. Besides making stews and chili, you can bake just about anything in them. Check it out, it’s fun.

  22. Scarecrow says:

    Just put on some warm clothes and have some tequila !

  23. Happy New Year !!

    Costco carries a nice paper shredder. The shredded mail makes good fire starter. So do paper bags and cardboard boxes.

    I love my books and would not like to use them as firestarter. But, if I had to; I would.

    Nice article. Glad to see so many old guys still around.


    • buttcrackofdoom says:

      my scouts have found dryer lint is one of the BEST….along with hemp rope frayed into single strands for starting fires.

      • YohanSmythe says:

        Yep. Keep your dryer link in a used vitamin or medicine bottle and always have it with you (one in the car, BOB, BOL, camping gear…..), along with your fire starter.

      • PO'd Patriot says:

        My favorite is the vasaline coated cotton balls. I save my wife’s prescription bottles and put the vasaline cotton balls, in them, and wrap them several times with Gorilla tape. The Gorilla tape can be torn into thin strips and “bird nested” loosely, lit with a Bic lighter, and will burn for quite a bit helping damp wood get started. That tape can also be used for repairs as well.

        • GrannyB says:

          Mine too! I have MANY jars of vaseline. One day my grown daughter was here & saw my cabinet full of vaseline. She kinda slyly asked me what on earth I was doing with all of it. I answered “starting fires”. By the look on her face I knew we weren’t even close to thinking the same thing! 😉

  24. Sean Hayes says:

    I live in Maine. I have a newer home with good insulation and I heat mostly with wood. The house has lots of windows so even though the walls are well insulated and the windows are modern you still loose heat at the windows. We invested in quality floor length curtains and even hung them over the front door since we never use it but always go out through the mud room/ garage. This tremendously improved our heat efficiency. When we first moved in we used 8 cords per winter. After the curtains we now use 6 cords. That is keeping everything comfortable. In a survival situation we would drastically reduce our wood burning.

    • Philosopher Deplorabilis says:

      Heya! My mother and her parents were Mainers! Arroostoock County! Way the heck up there!

      Heavy drapes are what I saw when I went to the UK and stayed in a 200-year old farmhouse. (It was close to Hadrian’s Wall and that was why I was there). They had heavy drapes over the doors, the windows, and between rooms. I love the aesthetic, very practical and it looked elegant. If that saved you two-cords a year, wow!

      I do the same thing with my place (natural gas/electric heat pump). It works! I have one set over the front door and another between a hallway / library and my main living area. Easy way to adjust the temp and keep the room I am in nice and cozy.

  25. Yahooie says:

    I still have my old “Woods Wisdom” Boy Scout leaders book. It has loads of great information for reference. I also learned about cold weather camping and have camped to wake up to a light layer of snow in the morning. Cold isn’t a mystery to me since I grew up in Michigan.

    I learned to knit and crochet as a child. Now that I’m a grandma, I still knit. Getting a shawl ready to go right now and have a hat, scarf and socks on the needles presently. I can also knit Nordic sweaters which have two (occasionally more) colors; these are the one with deer, snow, pine designs on them. The advantage of these is in carrying two colors along each row which is essentially an extra layer and makes them very warm. Another warm style is the fisherman’s knit; with the right combination of stitches and yarn they are rather wind and water resistant.

    One item I have is a fox fur blanket. It is incredibly warm. A friend brought it to me from the ME way back before that area became a big problem to the world. I take special care of that item since I’d never be able to replace it. Oh, yeah; any cat I’ve ever had falls in love with it. 😀

  26. Sleeping bags are like good mattresses. Don’t skip on the cost. A wife will keep you warmer but a great sleeping bag lasts longer than some marriages.

  27. Waiting says:

    I’ve been having trouble keeping warm D/T this last artic front. I have had no heat source to speak of. No wooding burning stove. I have discovered the value of a cheap Mylar blanket I took out of my SHTF stash. Mylar blankets come in different levels of thickness. I took out the very cheapest thinnest one to use, and was surprised at the difference it made. I have some others that are lined with cloth like material; I haven’t tried those yet.

  28. PO'd Patriot says:

    One thing you don’t want to do is use single wall metal pipe to come off your wood stove and go through sheetrock or any combustible materials. You really need triple wall pipe (stainless) if it can be found during hard scrabble and then allow 1.5 inches of space between the pipe and non combustables. For over thirty years I’ve installed, repaired and maintained oil-fired and propane fired boilers and stack temps can get very high and wood fired even higher. Single wall pipe won’t cut it unless you’re going through metal or masonry and then maintain minimum of 12 inches from nearby combustible material.

  29. spray foam doesn’t seem to store well. I have a few cans that i was keeping in stock. went to use one recently and it didn’t have any propellant left in it. I figured that one might have been an exception but i had the same issue again with another can. There is a cool product, expensive, but you can probably make one some other way, called Adirondack fire starter.
    i think it uses lamp oil.
    I don’t have one. i have enough stuff to burn.

  30. Concerned-Citizen! says:

    Great info guys.

  31. Sgt. Dale says:

    Power was out for about 8 hours the other day, when it was around -5 to -10 outside. I picked up a 100,000 btu LP vent free heater a couple of years ago. Used it to heat the house lower floor. Used Deep Cycle battery that I keep charged with a solar panel hooked to the blower Kept the place warm. I have enough tanks to last at least 1 month. By that time I will have moved to the BOL and it is fitted with several different type of heat.

    During the year I go to rummage sales and pick up LP tanks for around $5.00 and do a trade in at Wally World new full tank for around $22.00.

    I also have a way to hook up my Genni to the furnace to run it.

    I now we are talking about long term but for now I’m set for short term. The BOL is another story.


  32. RobDob says:

    Excellent article based on real experience. My wife and I have always tried to be self sufficient. This year I retired from a excellent engineering job at the age of 57. I sold our 58 year old home in a large metropolitan area (Tampa bay FL, approximately 3 million people) and purchased a 15 year old home in a more rural area NE GA 40,000 people. We combined families into a fairly large house (my parents in a 1500 sqft walk out basement and my wife and I in 2500 sqft upstairs). We made sure the new home was not in a HOA and had a septic tank. We ordered a water well but they are backlogged until spring. We also installed 5000 gallons of rain water catchment. We installed a wood stove upstairs and downstairs. Purchased a kinetic log splitter and split 6 cord of wood from hardwood on our lot. The larger straight Virginia Pine we sent to a local sawmill and had it milled from which we built a large shed as well as covered log racks. We have a significant stock of dried foods as well as spices. We also have eight hens providing about 5-6 eggs per day. We also have five breeding rabbits which are providing fairly inexpensive and tasty meat every 30 days. We installed several raised beds but plan to install many more next spring. Built a Harbor Freight greenhouse but the roof panels could not support the six inches of snow and ice we had a few weeks ago. I will reinforce this when we catch a break from the cold weather. Ultimately I plan to develop an aquaculture system. Currently super insulating our attic with a total of R60 fiberglass batts on the floor of the attic. Also installing R19 in the rafters and plan to lay radiant barrier on top of the floor batts. Rather than installing expensive heavy drapes one might consider making an interior temporary frame for the large windows and staple radiant barrier to the frame.

  33. OHgirl says:

    Me & Bruce Willis in a 2 person sleeping bag.

  34. Anonymous says:

    no need to worry my friends…SHTF there is going to be plenty of dead liberals around to burn as fuel. Now Im not sure how much burn material is in the average skinny jean, quasi-trans, fluid no bininari clust F$#% but im guessing 1-2hrs burn rate

  35. Frank Thoughts says:

    Body heat is the best way to stay warm. I was living in one of the coldest places on earth (apart from the Antarctic) and kept a regular haram of young women for this purpose. I never spent a night in bed alone. Some of the women were idiots or shallow but you lose your pickyness and just go for good looks and a great body. In that culture you just shacked up with whomever because it made sense to stay warm. We would travel around and it didn’t matter if she was the accountant or your boss, you would shack up at the end of the day after a few drinks.

  36. Peter says:

    After reading most of the excellent responses and recommendations, it is quite evident that living in a cold northern climate imposes extraordinary burdens in just trying to stay warm over a long term. This would be even more problematic in urban areas with limited or no access to fire wood. That said, if you wanted to avoid these life threatening issues it would be sensible to relocate further south, probably Florida or coastal areas of Mississippi and Alabama.

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