If the worst happens, you can always build a fire to keep yourself warm and cook cook food, but your life will be FAR easier if you’ve stockpiled plenty of fuel. A gallon of Coleman propane fuel will last for about 40 hours and is good for lighting, cooking, and heating.
If you go to Walmart today, you’ll see dozens of 16.4 ounce bottles of Coleman in the Sporting Goods department for around 5 dollars each. I recommend buying a few bottles every time you go shopping there, or whatever you can afford. Remember, bottles of Coleman fuel will be one of the first things to disappear during a panic, so get them while you can.
Coleman fuel 16.4 ounce propane bottles are both convenient and disposable. The cap is replaceable, the cylinder is pressurized, there is no pumping or pouring, and they work with almost all propane appliances. As you gather these bottles for your storage area, you’ll want to be shopping for some Coleman appliances. There are quite a few options, but your first priority is a stove for cooking.
I recommend the Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart 2-Burner Stove. With both burners on high, a 16.4 ounce bottle of fuel should last about an hour. It starts with the push of a button—there’s no need for matches or lighters—and will evenly heat two skillets (cast iron skillets are best). These stoves work well in all types of climates and altitudes. The side panels block wind and fold down to form shelves. It’s safe, easy to clean, and guaranteed to stand the test of time.
The only downside of this stove is it’s not as portable as it ought to be. If you don’t pick it up with two hands, the latch can come loose and it will fall apart. This can be a real pain in the butt, but if a major disaster occurs and the power is out, you will probably leave the stove in one spot, anyway.
The other thing you’ll want to do with these propane bottles is attach them to a lantern. Candles are good, oil lamps are better, but unless you use a good lantern, your home is still going to be very dim and it sucks trying to read a book or spend time with your family in this kind of light.
The Coleman 2-Mantle Propane Lantern is a good choice. One 16.4 ounce bottle of propane will last around 14 hours in this lantern. This type of lantern can be very bright on its max setting. It has large base with retractable feet to keep it from tipping over, and it comes with a carrying case for when you’re not using it. As with every product I’ve ever used, I do have a complaint (I’m just grumpy that way). I wish this lantern had a push-button starter like the stove has. You’ll need matches to get this going. Not the worst thing; just make sure you have matches.
As for heating, check out the Coleman Catalytic Heater. It won’t heat your whole house, but it should be able to keep one room warm all night on a single propane cylinder (just make sure there’s some ventilation). Also note that with brand new heaters you usually need to burn off the oil residue first or it will smell pretty bad.
So in conclusion, start looking around for a good stove, lantern, and heater, and start buying bottles of Coleman fuel while you still can. I still recommend learning how to build a fire from scratch and cook over it, but if the SHTF you will be very happy you have a convenient way to cook and heat your home.