[Note: I’ve updated this list and added a few more things at the end and figured I should re-post it as a healthy reminder considering it’s even worse weather right now.]
I know it’s still only technically fall outside but it’s getting down-right chilly out there! At least it is in my part of the country. And, so, I’m beginning to think about getting ready for winter. Here’s a few suggestions for you to consider, feel free to add your own in the comments section if you like. The following is in no particular order:
- Gather firewood – For most preppers it’s firewood or bust. If you expect to rely upon a wood-burning stove to heat your house and cook your food then ensure you have plenty. In fact, why not work to double or triple what you normally use in a winter? It’s not like wood “goes bad” and you’ll use it eventually… make your life easier and stockpile as much as you can.
- Insulate windows/doors – Even though our modern homes are much better insulated than those even a few decades ago, there are still plenty of ways for drafts to ruin the day. Take the time now to replace or repair leaky doors and windows… it’s an easy fix and one that will save you money in the long run.
- Swap out bug out bag/vehicle kit clothes/coat/gloves or mittens/boots/etc – If you don’t already keep long pants and long sleeved shirts, boots, gloves and more in your kits then swap them in now. It’s also a good time to update clothes for kids as they grow.
- Add blankets/sleeping bag to vehicles – Assuming you’re not interested in camping any longer then toss those sleeping bags (or blankets) into the car trunk and forget about them. Should you ever need them you’ll be glad they’re in the trunk and not the basement.
- Replace/check smoke alarm (and CO) batteries – Winter time is usually the time when people bring out the stuff that’s most likely to cause fires and CO poisoning. And, of course, disasters are the time when people do really dumb things like burning a charcoal grill indoors… best to at least be able to warn yourself of such troubles ASAP.
- Get fireplace flue cleaned/inspected – They say chimney fires are the WORST. Fortunately, they should be preventable if you choose to have your flue inspected and cleaned yearly (more if you use it A LOT). And, while you can use DIY chimney cleaning logs, I still prefer to have an actual human being look at ours.
- Have alternate heat sources (including fuel to run them) – This one should be a no-brainer. After all, a major tenet of prepping is to have options. The more ways you can do something, in this case keep warm, the better off you’ll be. Of course, be sure to focus on alternative heating options that make use of the most abundant fuel source in your area, be it propane or kerosene.
- Have HVAC system serviced/inspected – Assuming you expect to rely on your trusty HVAC system this winter then have somebody qualified ensure it’s in good working order. And, obviously, have a good backup heating plan or two.
- Keep vehicle gas tanks filled (rotate gasoline storage) – This is just good practice anyway but the winter time is probably the worst time to run out of gasoline if you get stuck out in the weather overnight or longer. Work to keep your vehicle’s gas tanks at half full or more at all times! And now’s a good time to rotate your stored fuel as well.
- Remember basic safety (no CO sources indoors, fire hazards, etc) – Again, prepping isn’t just about being ready for the “glamorous” disasters, it’s also about the more likely everyday disasters such as a kitchen fire, candle fire, or even a Christmas tree catching fire. Think about what you’re doing, don’t use stuff that might be questionable (such as a frayed extension cable), and think safety first at all times!
- Add shovel, sand or cat litter, snow gear, etc to vehicles – Sometimes it’s the less least glamorous of our survival supplies that’s the most needed in the winter, and that includes things like a basic shovel and supplies to get your car back on the road when the roads are working against you.
- Clear gutters and downspouts – You could wind up with some significant rooftop problems (and walkway problems) if your gutters and downspouts aren’t functioning properly due to blockage. Get these cleared properly so you don’t have easily-preventable problems.
- Bring your water barrels inside (or have a way to keep them from freezing solid) – If you keep your water barrels in a shed or even a garage you may find that they can freeze solid and cause all sorts of problems. Draining water barrels only to refill them again is no easy task but you certainly don’t want a busted barrel because the water froze and expanded. Another option would be to drain enough water from the barrels so that if/when the water does freeze it has room to expand.
- Stock up on ice melt or salt – Have enough of whatever it is you use to keep from slipping on slick concrete.
- Test run your generator – Although you really should test your generator on a regular schedule now might be a great time to ensure it actually works and that you have enough fuel, oil, etc to run it. Oh, and be sure you can find the extension cords to use it.
- Stockpile essentials like food and Rx medicines – Who knows why you might not be able to get to the store or fill a needed prescription but do you best to have at minimum of 30 days of these necessary supplies as winter storms have been know to cause havoc for weeks on end.
What supplies, gear, and actions would you add?