Emergency Preparedness Articles and Videos

Fuel, Other than electricity or natural gas
12/28/2010 | Sheryl McGlochlin

Article image: Fuel, Other than electricity or natural gas

Preparing for disasters

Experts believe that if a major disaster occurs we will be without electricity or natural gas for 5 months or longer. Unfortunately disasters occur all over the world, sometimes when we least expect it. As we learned from Hurricane Katrina and many others, Government assistance is 96 + hours away. Fuel is an often overlooked item when preparing for a disaster but a critical one. Fuel is a must to boil water, cook your food, heat your shelter & boost morale. Listed below are several fuel options:

Fuel Storage Guidelines

In an emergency you will most likely need to boil water, cook your food and heat your shelter. Proper ventilation is always necessary. Listed below are several fuel alternatives.


One cup of Insta-Fire will boil 2 cups of water in 10 minutes. It will light 75 brickettes in 10 minutes. It will also provide enough fuel to cook even the toughest of meals. It can also be used as a stand alone fire with 2 cups burning for approximately 45 minutes with occasional stirring. It is available in 1 cup containers and a variety of storage containers including 1 gallon bucket, 5 gallon bucket and 55 gallon drums. Long term storage is estimated at approximately 30 years.  http://www.instafire.com/home.htm


Raw, dry wood is a very good source of fuel especially when used in conjunction with Insta-Fire. Wood often becomes wet and unusable in a disaster. (Click here to see how to use Insta-Fire to light even wet wood). In rural areas wood may be readily available at a relatively low cost. Local permits may be necessary. In urban areas wood may not be as readily available and storage areas are limited. Be cautious when burning “used” wood that has a finish on it i.e. furniture & flooring, as it may contain deadly toxins.


Available in several sizes ranging from 1 pound to very large containers and is a good source for both heat and cooking. However, most containers have a “use by date” and therefore are not recommended for long term storage. An additional propane heater or stove is required. Storage restrictions generally apply due to its explosive nature. Check with your local fire department for storage restrictions in your area.

Kerosene/Heating oil

As with propane, a variety of storage tanks are used. Kerosene and Heating oil are good sources of heat for heating your shelter but generally not used for cooking. Also, as with other fuels i.e. propane and gasoline, storage restrictions may apply. Check with your local fire department for storage restrictions in your area.


Coal can be good source of heat and can be stored for a long period of time if kept dry. Generally messy to store, must be kept dry, proper ventilation is a must and can be hard to light unless used with Insta-Fire. Charcoal briquettes are a good source of fuel to cook but because it omits carbon monoxide it must be used outdoors. (Click here for a demonstration to light charcoal briquettes).