Winterization and Fire Safety

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This is the main page for Winterization and Fire Safety issues.


Emergency Items 10/28

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There are 3 primary concerns for winter:

  • People - keeping us warm (clothing, etc.)
  • Shelter - needs to be warm and sturdy (resist snow load, wind, etc.)
  • Safety - fire and carbon monoxide, snow removal, preventing slipping on ice, etc.


Please read Winter Health and Safety for Protestors, which covers personal dress and behavior. More concise, printed versions are available in the Library and the Info tent.

Keeping warm while sitting or lying down:

  • Layers of corrugated cardboard, or even newspapers. Wrap in plastic to keep it from getting wet and then frozen.
  • Foil bubble home insulation. Regular bubblewrap, even.
  • Air mattress
  • Cots or Hammocks - prevent direct ground contact, but don't insulate from cold air. Allows adding insulation below the cot or hammock; insulation here doesn't get compressed by body weight. Could be as simple as blankets or bags of styrofoam peanuts.

Clothing Solutions:

  • Polypropylene layers under regular clothing. Look for items with a NSN number (military issue). Look for wool and thermals underwear too.
  • Waterproof shoes/boots. Wear boots LARGER than your normal size - more room for extra socks, extra space = insulation, ability to move toes and improve circulation.
  • Space blankets hooded and regular all weather blankets NASA TECH wind H2O reflect 90%of body heat, 5x7 hooded: Examples here; also emergency blankets and bags

Additional solutions:

  • Hot beverages
  • Hot food
  • Warming stations .. possibly use the hot manhole covers for a "sauna" room.
  • We can also use solar heat gain for daytime comfort. Clear plastic roofs with windbreaking sides make for good comfort on sunny days.
  • Personal heating solutions
    • Hot water bottles
    • Heated bricks
    • Instant heat packs
    • DIY heat pack using water, sodium acetate, a hair clip, and boilable plastic bags.


Current solutions we are working to implement:

  • A proposal was passed to buy several large military-grade tents for a number of functions, including the Kitchen, Medical, and Logistics. We are in the process of acquiring them..
  • Funds have been donated to build several tiny rolling sleeping shelters - small, insulated "houses" that do a great job of keeping the occupant warm and elevated above the cold, wet ground.
  • Other ideas are being worked out and developed as prototypes.
  • A group of architects, city planners, and engineers from MIT and other area schools is working to come up with solutions for personal heating, shelter, and other winter-related problems.
  • Methods of proper placement of tarps under and over tents, to prevent water pooling underneath, and to create insulating layers of air over top, are being taught to campers.
    • If two tents are placed so their entrances face each other, with 4-5 feet between them, one large tarp can cover some or all of both tents to create a covered entryway.
    • A gap between this tarp and the tents beneath it creates a layer of air that will help insulate the tent, and prevent water from moving from the tarp and the tent.
    • The "door" into this entryway must be low - if it is tall enough to just walk through, it is too high - so that warm air stays in.
    • It is very important to NOT block the ventilation in the tents! You need air flow both to avoid suffocation and to avoid condensation inside the tent. Without enough airflow, the moisture from your breath will make the inside of the tent wet, and being wet when it is cold is one of the major things to avoid.


  • Will it hold up in strong winds?
  • Will it keep water out, both on top/sides and floor?
  • How do we hold tents down - can't drive stakes very deeply in the ground here; can't drive stakes through the paved areas at all.
  • City may not allow tents larger than 10x10 without a permit; Greenway now says a large tent for gatherings may be okay, yet some police are telling people no tents can be brought in at all.
  • Can we provide any kind of safe heat source (don't want open flame)?
  • Fire Department does not want open flame - risk of fire, and is concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning as well.

Structure Solutions:

  • Floors made with plywood or tarps, with insulation and then tents over it. This will allow water to flow under the floor and provide an insulating layer between the very cold ground and the people inside.
  • Could put small tents inside larger tents. Look for NSN number for good, 4-season tents
  • Shelters can be weighted down with sandbags, buckets filled with concrete, containers filled with water.
  • Little well insulated sleeping pods, with wheels, like a tiny house on wheels. Not a "structure" but a sleeping-barrow. example: [[1]] There is one in camp now that holds 1 person that is working well.
  • Inflatable structures. Custom made or purchased; dead air space can provide insulation. Flexible, not rigid structures, may avoid troubles with authorities, can be combined with other ideas, such as wheeled platforms. Potential problem: may need constant inflation or frequent reinflation, which requires electricity.

Solutions we probably can't use:

  • Floors made with pallets, with plywood over top.
    • Greenway does not want any pallets used, because they may provide enticing habitat for rodents.
    • Do NOT stuff with straw; this is a fire hazard and the Fire Department will be sad! Sealing the ends of the pallets, to stop cold air constantly flowing through, needs to be done.

Information we may need:

  • How many people intend to camp through the winter?
  • What ordinances do we need to keep in mind?
  • What are the costs to build or buy shelters?
  • If we are building, do we have enough people to do that?
  • What is the process for shelters needing construction?

Heat and Fire Solutions

  • NO SMOKING NEAR COMBUSTIBLES. That especially means in or near tents.
  • DO NOT let trash build up! Especially paper, cardboard (i.e. signs), fabric.
  • Heat people not air
    • Hot water bottles. The bags from inside the "box of joe" you get at coffee shops makes a great hot water bottle. They can be refilled with water and heated by laying them over the hot (REALLY HOT, BE CAREFUL) manhole cover.
    • Heated bricks
    • Single-use handwarmers and similar items
  • Heat: "catalytic propane heaters" do NOT have open flames and provide heat. I think the fire department warned against open flames. Well catalytic may be our answer.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are cheap and will protect against CO poisoning. This will satisfy the fire department, and will prevent any of us from dying, both of which are good.

Pathway Safety

  • Where will all the snow go?
    • It can be moved to one side of camp and formed into a wall to act as a windbreak.
  • Removing snow from gravel path could be special challenge; not so easy to shovel.
  • Paths made of pallets and plywood will probably be slippery. What can we use instead of wooden surfaces?


Please update this with URLs as appropriate

Meeting Minutes

Further Links & Ideas


Hot Food and Beverage


Based on: Winterization at wikispaces

Prices/links (sorry don't know where to put this): GP tent 16x32' = $980 GP 16x32 = 795

(have more places to check prices up and will put hose up soon if they are better) Boots = 30 Boots = 20 Poly pro bottom = 17+ pp top = 17+ Mil Sleep system= 108+ mummy bag= 40 bivy cover= 60 thermal t+b= 22 tent 17' 10 person= 500 18x32= 800

ebay Mil sleep system= 80+ Eureka wild basin 0 degree bag= 60

Military iso mat (sleeping mat)= 10 (available at many places at that price)

I put similar items at various prices because we may not be able to get the full amount we need from one site. I'll look into the links John posted tomorrow.