Safely heating your indoors using an outdoor grill.

In an emergency, especially in the winter, one can find that it’s quite difficult to heat your indoor area safely. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills many people every year because of poor or bad planning. There are a few ways to heat safely, however, albeit it’s not as efficient as simply running a propane heater indoors. I personally keep a catalytic heater on hand, just in case, but even then you still need to crack a window to get some air flowing.
Situation: Winter snow and Ice have knocked out your power for an indeterminate period of time, and you need to get warm.

Stipulation: Your only heat was electric. You do, however, have a grill outside.

Step 1) – Consolidate yourself. Your 2400 sq foot home might be good for storing all your miscellaneous items, but when it comes to heating, it’s too much to heat without some form of functional modern heating system. So cut your activity down to one room. Preferably a smaller upstairs room which is easily insulated (see next step).

Step 2) Insulate. No matter how good your home insulation is, you are always going to have heat loss. The less you have, the better off you’ll be in this type of situation. First thing is first – take care of the windows. Insulate them as best as possible, though make sure you still leave a little airflow somewhere in the room to ensure that your own breathing will not raise carbon monoxide to dangerous levels. I personally either use poly sheeting stapled to the window frame or a heavy sheet over the windows. Insulation also means not walking around in your boxers. Put on some pants, a layer of shirts, a coat, etc. This will reduce the need for external heat.

Step 3) Assuming your body heat is insufficient, the room simply cannot hold enough of it, it’s ridiculously cold, it’s time to go to plan B, which is why you’re reading this blog to begin with.

Do you have a pizza stone? A fireproof piece of masonry? A steel pot you can fill with water? Then you can have a simple radiant heater. What you’re going to do is first build a stand. I’ve seen all measures of stands used from coffee cans or coat hangers to tile. Your goal is to simply keep whatever hot item you have from hurting or burning what it’s on. Most often this will be your carpet, so you need something to protect it (and yourself).

Step 3a) Fire up your grill. This is not something you want to have to do often, so we’re going to make sure we use it as efficiently as possible. Get one medium sized or large item and heat it. Don’t overdo it – we don’t want to waste your precious gas. We want to basically use these items as a sort of heat battery, with which we’re going to take into a room and put on our stand. This will provide several hours of radiant heat, depending on the item. It’s a pain, sure, and it can be a major hassle, but this type of thing can really save your life if needed in a cold emergency. The best part is, no carbon monoxide to worry about!

Also – bear in mind if you’re in your vehicle, the same trick works with placing a pot of water on the engine block. Much of the power used to heat your vehicle is lost in heating the engine to ambient air. You can use this to your advantage in much the same way ensuring safe, flameless heat. Be safe!

Michael Messina,



We sell first-rate survival and camping supplies! "The best thing you can buy is quality."
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