Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Non-Prepper's Guide to Prepping for Winter

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I live in West Virginia.  As far back as I can remember, we always prepped for winter, although we used to call it "stocking up".  We didn't go all out, but made sure we had enough no matter what the winter might bring.  Some of our worst winter situations were:

Being stuck in the house for 19 days straight.  
Losing electric (and heat) during Hurricane Sandy and us being hit with a blizzard.
Losing power (and heat) when the wind chill was sixty below zero.
Water pipes froze and we had no water for almost 2 weeks.

Even in the best case scenario, I don't like dragging a bunch of groceries in the house when it's cold, snowing, and icy, so I always do some prepping for winter.

1.  Think about what you will need when it's snowing.  These items might not be available when you need them.  Things like a snow shovel, gasoline for your car or snowblower, or even winter boots might be more difficult to find once winter hits.  Buy these things now to ensure you have them.

2.  Medicine.  As I said, we once were in the house for 19 days and no one went out and no one came to the house.  Do you have enough medicine to last that long?  What about over the counter medicine?  Cold medicine, pain relievers, etc. are important to keep on hand.  Also, for your pets as well.

3.  Water.  When my water pipes froze we were able to get out of the house to get water for drinking.  We melted snow so we could flush the toilet.  Have a way to store some water as well as ideas for hygiene.  We went to the gym to shower.  Have hand sanitizer available, and plenty of it.  

4.  Food.  This is one area I plan more for than some of the others.  I don't like doing large grocery shopping trips in the winter.  I start watching for sales now and buying what we can use throughout the winter.  Soups are good.  Tomato juice to make soups.  Some canned meat (tuna, salmon, etc.) is also good to keep on hand in case you run out of fresh or frozen meat.  Plan for some canned or frozen fruits or vegetables.  There have been times I have been snowed in and I was craving salad.  Be sure and have enough for your pets to eat as well.

5.  Hygiene products.  You don't want to run out of toilet paper when you can't get to the store.  Same with feminine items. 

6.   An external battery charger such as the Zendure A3.  When we were in the house from Hurricane Sandy, my mother was on dialysis and we had a utility line down in our driveway.  I had to make a number of phone calls to get the line checked to make sure it wasn't a live electric line -- she would die if she didn't get to dialysis.  I ran out of charge on my cell phone.  Thankfully I was able to charge it off of my computer, but if I couldn't have, I don't know what I would have done because every door to the house was snowed shut and I was unable to get out of the house without someone digging us out.  In an outage, use your devices as seldom as possible, but also have a way to recharge them at least once, and the Zendure A3 allows for multiple charges from one power bank.

7.  Battery operated lamps are much safer than candles, especially for children.  You may lose power and you'll want to have light.  This also includes making sure you have batteries, flashlights, etc.

8. Take stock of your clothing and blankets.  Make sure you have a warm hat to wear should you lose power during a blizzard.  During Hurricane Sandy, our house got down to 45 degrees inside, and I was sleeping under seven blankets and wearing a hat to keep warm.  Know what to do with your pets.  I have guinea pigs, and during Hurricane Sandy, I have an acorn house from Sewing 4 A Cause that helped keep my guinea pigs nice and warm.  I covered their cage with blankets and put a lot of blankets in with them.  Not the best solution, but it was the only one I could do in such an emergency situation, and it kept them both alive and healthy. 

9.  Some fun things to do.   Just in case you can't get out of the house, make sure you have some fun things to do.  If you have power, things like baking cookies or bread would be great.  I use my bread machine all the time in the winter, so make sure you have yeast or whatever else you need for your project.  Also, things like books, magazines, puzzles, and board games are good if you lose power.  

10.   Finally make sure you have some of your favorite items in the house.  If you might be snowed in for almost three weeks, do you have enough chocolate to last you that long?  


  1. I have a son station in Virginia so your post made me think of him. He has always been overseas during hurricane season

    1. Hurricanes are something I don't have much experience with, but I sure do have experience with blizzards and snowstorms! lol

  2. Great tips!! Here in the mountains of AZ, we're just praying for snow this winter. Been pretty dry the past few years!! Come on El Nino!! :) ...especially now that I have the tips! :)

    1. What's funny is the amount of snow it can take to disable an area varies by location. When We were stuck in the house for almost three weeks, we had our driveway backhoed (too much snow to plow) and the next day there was an eight foot snow drift in the driveway so we were in the house for over another week! Other areas shut down with way less snow. Of course it doesn't take much ice to make going out dangerous!

  3. We do the same up here in Michigan. The first year I lived here, we drove six hours to get a generator because our side of the state was sold out! There's no denying winter.

  4. These are great tips for living anywhere in the US. We live in Florida so we don't have to deal with blizzards but we have hurricanes. But these tips could apply for anything due to the fact that the US has such a range of natural disasters

  5. This is such a great and informative post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. I grew up doing these things, but it has amazed me how people moving to this area often don't know the basics of getting ready for winter weather.