Shelter Heating/cooling Lighting

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Stressed populations in post-disaster, post-war and/or impoverished situations will likely need to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions, especially if their homes have been destroyed. Heat strokes and hypothermia often kill more people than the actual earthquake, hurricane, or other disaster. Providing the victims with the basics of water, shelter, food, and medical services can help solve many of the factors that lead to such suffering, but in this section we also highlight specific technologies that can help combat the harsh weather.


STAR-TIDES is working to provide a useful database of information for technologies that can be supplied to emergency situations and for long-term development in order to help those suffering from extreme temperatures.

The Sphere Project ( is a good resource that offers common standards used by the international community, when providing support to disaster victims, refugees, and other displaced populations. TIDES recommends that those involved in such operations become familiar with the Sphere Standards available at the above link. Equipment that can help with heating/cooling needs is considered an NFI (non-food item) and the Sphere Project lists many important cultural considerations to apply when selecting such items.

Heating is often a major concern, because of the risk of fires, smoke inhalation and pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning, burning of fossil fuels, and deforestation. The International Network on Household Energy in Humanitarian Settings is a good resource that discusses physical protection, improved technologies, alternative fuels, and fuel-efficient techniques.

In most cases, the simplest solution is blankets. In addition to water and plastic sheeting, blankets are often the most commonly distributed NFI (non-food item) distributed after disasters. To see the blankets that are used by USAID, visit this link to a pdf file on our website.


The following is a link to the Emergency Items catalog for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ICRC). This has descriptions of many of the products that the ICRC uses in disaster response situations. For Heating, go to Volume 1, then ‘Household’ and then ‘Bedding and Clothes’ or ‘Stoves and Heaters’ for a listing of equipment that the ICRC commonly deploys. -

The regulation of body temperature and preventing heat stroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, and hypothermia is often included as part of the health section in disaster and development-related manuals. The following sites offer helpful information on this topic:

       - Center for Disease Control’s recommendations on preparing for and surviving during winter disasters.

       – the World Health Organization is a great resource for many health concerns and has a good information repository of illnesses caused by overexposure to heat or cold.

     - this site is a great resource for building your own solar water heaters and has instructions and a number of examples. These are applicable to long-term development projects.


Each link will lead you to a new page that lists lighting solutions under these broad categories. (Note: TIDES does not endorse any specific products or stores, nor are we responsible for the content on the links.)

Equipment Providers

  • Heating Products
  • Cooling Products

Planning factors common to all heating/cooling solutions are:

  • Costs – initial set-up investment of unit, transportation and upkeep costs.
  • Size of equipment – weight and dimensions of packaging and of fully deployed unit.
  • Upkeep requirements –attrition of parts? Are any materials reusable?
  • Operator training/difficulty of upkeep
  • Maintenance (man hours/day)
  • Environmental considerations


(List of Company Providers)

Emergency Blanket providers:

Small room/shelter heaters

Mr Heater (Propane)
Stansport Heaters
Sunup Solar

Solar Water Heaters

Build your own solar water heater
Silicon Solar

Large generator powered units

Can be used for field hospitals, backups if normal hospital systems fail, and for other key buildings or command and control shelters

Carrier Rental Systems
EMS Innovations
Tactical Power
DRS Technologies


(List of Company Providers)

Coleman Tent Fan
O2 Cool Rechargeable Fans

Large Units

Large units that can be used for field hospitals, backups if normal hospital systems fail, and for other key buildings or command and control shelters

Carrier Rental System
EMS Innovations
Tactical Power
DRS Technologies