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As winter grows closer, it’s time to start preparing for large winter storms and blizzards. We tend to joke that everyone has to run out and get milk and bread before the snow comes, but anyone who has lived through a massive blizzard understands you need more than milk and bread in your winter storm stockpile.
The winters all over the country are changing. If you follow the Farmer’s Almanac, then you know that they’re predicting bitterly cold winter conditions in areas east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains. Are you ready for the freezing, frigid, and snowy winter that is predicted?
People all over the country have found themselves in the hands of Mother Nature with their proverbial pants down. The last time you want to be caught unprepared is in the middle of a blizzard.
A minor snowstorm is no big deal, but those who have survived blizzards understand that they are more than just a bit of snow. It means that you might have unpassable roads for days or a week. The temperatures can reach into the negatives, and the snow depths can make trekking out of your house like a polar expedition.
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Then, you have to worry about your electricity. If the winds are too strong, you might face power lines that come crashing down. That leaves you facing the frigid temperatures without any heat.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a situation I don’t want to find myself in. That’s why I think being prepared with a full winter storm stockpile is so essential.
Items for Your Winter Storm Stockpile
First and foremost on almost any stockpile list, you need to have water. A human body can last days without food, but you won’t survive long without water. The general rule for stockpiling water is that you need one gallon of water per person per day.
For my family of six, I need at least six gallons of water. Plus, I need to have a gallon for each dog in my house, which brings my total of water needed up to eight gallons per day. A one-week supply of water for my family consists of 56 gallons. That’s quite a bit of water!
2. Non-Perishable Foods
You want to have perishable foods, but your stockpile should focus on non-perishable items. You might not have electricity, so you also want food that you can open and go. Protein is a necessity. Here are some ideas for non-perishable foods for your stockpile:
- Granola Bars
- Protein Bars
- Protein Powder
- Cans of Soup
- Peanut Butter
- Oatmeal Packets
- Jars of Applesauce
- Canned Beans
- Salmon and Tuna Packets
- Instant Coffee and Tea
- Powdered Milk
3. Manual Can Opener
One time, we had a major thunderstorm that knocked out our electricity and trees blocked my road. I went to make some soup, and I realized that I had no way to open the cans of soup.
Don’t be me; have a manual can opener or two on hand for these situations. You will need it if you don’t have one.
4. A Way to Cook The Food
While you should have foods in your stockpile that don’t need to be cooked, you also don’t want to live on granola and protein powder all day. Ideally, you’ll have a way to cook the food if your power goes out. If you have a gas-powered stove, it should work without electricity.
Other options include a camping stove or grill. I like these options because you can use them in different situations, so I feel like you get your money’s worth. Also, make sure you stockpile the fuel for the cooking method. Most camping stoves use propane, and a grill will need charcoal or propane as well.
5. Matches or Lighter
If you need to light your gas stove or grill, then you need to have matches or a lighter. You’ll need this for wood stoves, fireplaces, or candles.
6. Pet Food
Chances are you think about feeding your family, but you might forget to have some pet food stockpiled as well. If you’re stuck in the house for several days, you don’t want to dip into your food of meat for your pets. So, stash a few bags of dog or cat food (or both).
7. A Generator
My family loses electricity in the winter frequently. That’s the price you pay to live outside of the city, and having a generator on hand is crucial.
Having a generator means that we can still run the lights, our refrigerator, and the freezer. You could run your electric furnace, but remember that you need to match the size of your home to the size of your generator. You won’t be able to run everything.
Be sure to stockpile gasoline for your generator. Nothing is worse than going to start your generator only to realize that you’re out of gas!
8. Portable Heater
Snow means the weather is cold, and that means you need a way to stay warm. In an ideal blizzard situation, your power stays on, and you’re nice and toasty in your house. In the worst-case scenario, you lose power and heat.
If you have a wood stove, all you need is a stockpile of dry firewood. The other choice is to buy a portable propane heater. Those can cost between $100-200 depending on the size purchased.
Instead of buying a large one, I recommend that you block off all unnecessary parts of the house and sleep in one room. Block off all the vents in the other parts of the house and make sure you put towels or blankets in front of the door cracks to stop cold air from seeping inside.
Make sure that you also have a carbon monoxide detector with you as well. Propane heaters can be dangerous, so be cautious and pay attention to the directions.
9. Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape
The plastic sheeting kits that cover the windows are a great thing to have on hand. They help to stop any cold air from coming into the house and prevents warm air from going out. The kits are inexpensive, less than $5 each. Sometimes, you need a hairdryer to set it up, but others need duct tape.
10. Hygiene Supplies
I recommend that you have some paper plates, paper towels, flatware, and disposable cups on hand. It reduces how much you need to wash things by hand.
If you don’t have power, there is a chance you won’t have power. If your source of water is a well on your property, then you won’t have water because the well pump and pressure tank requires electricity. For those with municipal water, you should already have water, unless the water department loses power, pressure, or it doesn’t have a generator backup.
However, depending on the temperatures, there is a chance that your pipes can freeze. That’s a significant problem that thousands of households face each year, and it can cause a lot of problems.
Keeping these supplies on hand stops you from having dirty dishes sitting around, attracting flies and bacteria. You might also want some disinfecting cleaning spray and wipes to keep the house clean. Hand sanitizers should be kept in the bathroom and kitchen.
Also, your toilet might not flush without electricity. If the pump is electric, you might consider storing water to flush the toilet. As soon as the winter storm hits, you can fill up your bathtub.
Another choice is a heavy-duty garbage bag and kitty litter. Together, they create a makeshift toilet. You can sprinkle kitty litter at the bottom of the bag each time someone uses it, which can fill a 5-gallon bucket. Don’t let it get too heavy because it can rip when you lift it.
11. First Aid Kit
Even if you are stuck in the house, that also means you can’t leave the house quickly if the weather is nasty. Ambulances might be blocked or delayed totally until the weather subsides.
I highly recommend having a fully stocked first aid kit that is capable of having a majority of situations at home. At the least, make sure you have a kit stocked with these items:
- Bandages and gauze
- Antibiotic ointment
- Cold medicine
- Allergy medication
- Medical Tape
- Daily medication
12. Diapers and Wipes
If you have babies and toddlers on hand, you need to have diapers and wipes. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the cold, and they can become hypothermic much easier than adults. Diapers and wipes keep your baby comfortable and dry, and that’s important. Make sure you have at least a week’s worth of diapers on hand at all times.
13. Formula – If Needed
Likewise, if you use a formula for your baby, it’s irresponsible not to have at least a week’s worth of formula stored in case of emergencies. You need to have water, as well, to be able to make a clean formula for your baby.
Related: 20 Emergency Supplies for Your Children
14. Flashlights and Batteries
Flashlights are needed if the lights go out. They let you see at night, and make sure you stock extra batteries. Running flashlights for long periods drain batteries fast. I like to have two or three sets of batteries per flashlight.
You could use candles as well, and those have the extra benefit of adding some warmth to the house. However, be sure to practice proper candle safety. Thousands of house fires each year start because of candles, so use caution, especially if you have children in the house.
Also, make sure you have a working fire extinguisher on hand. Candles should never be left unattended, especially if you have cats in the house!
Related: 11 Ways To Light Your Home When The Power Goes Out
Staying warm is a priority when it comes to winter storm preparation. Keep a few fleece blankets on hand for your family. Each person should have at least one blanket, but more is better.
It’s always smart to keep fleece blankets in the car for each person as well. You can purchase cheap $3-5 blankets at Wal-Mart. Store those in your vehicle for each adult and child!
16. Socks, Gloves, and Warm Clothes
Staying warm involves more than just blankets. You want to have plenty of socks on hand for each person. Wool socks are ideal because they hold in the heat and wick away moisture.
Make sure you also have sweatshirts, mittens, hats, thick sweatpants, and more that are stored in a bin for emergencies. You don’t want to spend time digging everything out when the power goes out.
17. Snow Removal Tools
During one major snowstorm, my husband had to dig a tunnel out for our dogs to use the bathroom. I was sure that they would become lost in the snow. You need to have snow removal tools on hand.
Eventually, you’ll need to dig out, and snow takes time to melt. Shovels are cheap, and rock salt helps to melt the ice that might accumulate under the snow on your patio.
18. Landline Phones
One thing you might not consider is getting a landline phone. If you don’t have service or lack of electricity to charge your cell phone, a landline will still work. They even work during power outages! However, the phones need to be corded, not wireless.
19. Battery Operated Radio
Keeping a battery-operated radio on hand gives you a way to provide updates about the storm and relief. Relying on wireless connections during a massive blizzard isn’t a wise idea. Radios keep you connected to news stations without the need to have power. Just make sure you have extra batteries on hand.
I’ve spent several days stuck in my house due to winter storms, and if you don’t have electricity, things can become a bit boring when you’re used to TV. I highly suggest having some card games, dice games, and board games on hand. You want some books and hobbies to have and enjoy with your family.
Related: 20 Awesome Board Games For Preppers
Last, having some alcohol on hand is never a bad idea. Sip a bit of whiskey or hard cider as the snow falls outside around you. We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can be sure that we’re prepared and relaxed for what’s to come.
Winter storms are just part of living in an area that receives plenty of snow each year. There is nothing we can do to prevent it from happening. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Being prepared and creating a winter storm stockpile will help keep your mind at ease. No matter what comes your way, you’ll be ready.
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