Sunday, 19 April 2015

08:36 – Heavy rain in the forecast, so we’re doing inside stuff today.

Colin made a break for it yesterday while Barbara was outside working in the yard. He was there one moment and gone the next. We went off walking around the neighborhood looking for him, Barbara in one direction and me in another. He was nowhere to be seen, so we returned to the house to make sure he hadn’t been accidentally shut into the basement or something. While we were there, I grabbed a pair of FRS/GMRS radios that were sitting on the charger in the kitchen. We used those to communicate as we continued the search, me on foot and Barbara driving around the neighborhood. They worked fine. I found Colin and got him on leash and walked him home. I stuck one of the radios in each of our vehicles when we got back. Colin got a stern talking to.

09:55 – Here’s an item of prepping gear that most people forget to buy: a bulk propane cannister adapter hose.

Most portable propane appliances–stoves, lanterns, and so on–are designed to accept disposable 1-pound propane cylinders. These adapter hoses let you run those appliances from a bulk 20-pound cannister. It’s not so much a matter of cost. A full 20-pound cannister costs only a bit less than 20 1-pound cylinders. But many people keep a propane cannister or two for their gas grills, while few people would want to store two or three dozen of the small cylinders. In a typical neighborhood, most of the stored propane will be in 20-pound cannisters. Also, if you know an emergency is imminent, it’s a lot easier to grab two or three extra cannisters at a Blue Rhino stall than to get the equivalent in cylinders at a Home Depot or Lowes. (Just remember that the cannisters at those exchange stalls are typically underfilled, to perhaps 15 or 16 pounds, and plan accordingly.)

Note that there are two types of adapter hoses, high- and low-pressure. The one you want is a high-pressure adapter hose, which has no regulator built in. Devices designed for cylinders have built-in regulators. The low-pressure adapter hoses with regulators are designed to be used with specific models of propane appliances that have no built-in regulators.

A 20-pound propane cannister contains a lot of heat energy. We have an old Coleman 5029 catalytic propane heater, since discontinued, that produces 3,000 BTUs and runs for eight hours on a one-pound cylinder. It’ll run continuously for about a week on a 20-pound cylinder. It’s safe to use indoors, as long as you keep a window cracked for ventilation, and 3,000 BTUs is sufficient to keep a small room reasonably warm even when it’s below zero outside. Similar catalytic propane heaters are available new on Amazon and elsewhere for under $100.