What We Are Encouraged To Do
“We continue to encourage members to store sufficient food, clothing, and where possible fuel for at least one year. We have not laid down an exact formula for what should be stored. However, we suggest that members concentrate on essential foods that sustain life, such as grains, legumes, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, sugar or honey, and water. Most families can achieve and maintain this basic level of preparedness. The decision to do more than this rests with the individual.
“We encourage you to follow this counsel with the assurance that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear.” (First Presidency Letter to priesthood leaders, 24 June 1988.)
One of the hardest things to store is fuel. By its very nature it is a very energetic substance and that can lead to certain problems: like it starting to burn before you mean it to and in places you don’t want it to. It is not usually something you want to store large quantities of in your home. So some kind of out-building or storage shed is a good thing to have.
Fuel for Electricity
At the very least you need some batteries for flashlights and radios and the like. There re two kinds of batteries: Primary and Secondary. Primary batteries are single use and disposable, like alkaline and lithium batteries that can only be used once, but will store fully charged for several years. They create voltage and current through and irreversible chemical reaction. Secondary batteries are rechargeable, like NiCad, NiMH, and Lithium-Ion batteries. Properly cared for they can be used hundreds of times. With the use of an inverter you can use your car to charge your cellphone, laptop or any other rechargeable battery.
A generator is a useful little device, but storing large amounts of gasoline is challenging. Don’t buy an over-powerful generator, you don’t have to power your whole house; the refrigerator, the furnace fan and the phone and any vital medical equipment you might have. A small photovoltaic solar energy production system to backup the basics is not all that expensive.
You also likely have a gas grill in your backyard. A few canisters of propane will allow you to cook food and boil water for quite some time. A propane camp stove will also be very useful for that.
Remember not to use these indoors, even an attached garage is indoors even if the door is open. Carbon monoxide can get into your home and kill your family.
Fuel for Heat
Heating your home in the winter is an important thing to do, without heat you will die. Even so you don’t need to heat the whole house. Moving everyone into one bedroom and just heating it during extreme cold may be a useful idea.
There are a variety of fuels that can be stored for use, the main ones are: wood, coal and oil.
Wood is easily stored outside under a tarp or other protective cover and will last many years. Make sure the chimney is inspected, and if necessary cleaned, every year. It takes about 4 cords (4 ft x 4 ft x 32 ft) of wood to heat a 1500 square foot house for one year.
Coal also stores well and provides much more heat per pound then wood. Coal can spontaneously combust in piles greater then ½ ton. It takes about 6 tons (240 cubic feet) of coal to heat a home for one year. However, coal could be stored buried in the backyard, preferably under a flower bed or other space that can be easily disturbed during cold weather.
Oil is one of the best kinds of fuel for storage, it can be stored easily in a heavy-gauge steel container and has lots of energy. 500 gallons will heat a typical home for one year.
Propane and natural gas both require pressure vessels for storage.
Kerosene is a very popular supplementary heating fuel and can be used for lighting.
Lamp oil is a highly refined version of kerosene that burns very cleanly. Usually used for light but produces plenty of heat as a byproduct and can heat a small room.
Pellet stoves can use wood pellets or even grain to produce heat.
Peat and manure can be burned for heat. The pioneers often used manure to cook with.
Rubber tires are made from oil and will burn. It is best to have some tools on hand to cut them into smaller, more useful sizes. Not a great choice but useful for emergencies.
Passive solar can be made use of by building a box as wide as your window painted black inside with a plexiglas top pointed south at a 30º angle to the ground attached to your window to allow air heated in the box to come into the room.