Winter is here. Nights are longer, days are shorter and the temperature is dropping. It’s only a matter of time before a big storm hits. Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Good luck with that. If you’re not ready for a blizzard, you’ll have lots in common with Frosty the Snowman. Not a good situation for a human. Frosty’s already frozen, and someone thoughtfully gave him a hat and scarf.
Before you face a wintery blast, prepare. When icy gales howl, let Frosty be “jolly” and “happy” outside. You stay comfy and cozy inside the protection of your well-stocked home. Snowmen don’t drink hot cocoa anyway.
1. Stock Up
Start with something Frosty doesn’t need: food. He’s made of snow, but you’ve got muscles, organs and tissues to fuel. Stock up on non-perishable items that don’t need heating to be edible.
Cans of soup, stew, chili and vegetables are fine if your utilities still work. Keep these convenient foods handy while you’re waiting for your gas and electric to come back on — just in case:
- Energy bars
- Canned fruit, tuna and chicken
- Bottled water and juice
- Bagged nuts, dried fruit and trail mix
- Peanut butter
- Cereal — If you don’t like it dry, get single-serving cartons of shelf-stable milk that don’t need refrigeration. Alternatively, buy powdered milk to mix with water.
Be sure to have a manual can opener, in case your electric model becomes useless. Have paper plates, cups and plastic utensils ready if hot wash water isn’t available — along with trash bags to pack away used dishes so you don’t smell tuna all day.
2. Cover Up
You probably have sweatshirts or sweaters to wear when the weather turns cold. But will you be ready if your heat is out for several hours — or a few days? You’ll need serious warmth then. Each member of your household should have:
- Multiple blankets or a cold-weather sleeping bag
- Gloves or mittens
- Winter hat and coat
- Insulated layers for top and bottom
- Hand Warmers
- Don’t just keep yourself warm – prevent the house from losing heat. Cover any cracks at windows and doors with extra clothes. There’s no need to heat the neighborhood!
- Set up a tent in one room. Setting up a tent traps the heat in a smaller area than a room and won’t take as long to heat up.
3. Warm Up
You may want to consider a backup heat source in case your furnace goes off and stays off. If you have a wood stove or fireplace that’s safe and ready to go, just keep extra fuel on hand. If not, purchase a portable kerosene or propane heaters designed for indoor use. Do not use one designed for outdoors.
Local ordinances ban some heaters for safety reasons, so be sure to investigate regulations in your area. If heaters aren’t used properly, dangerous — even deadly — carbon monoxide gas can accumulate indoors. Initial symptoms of poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea and general weakness.
Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher close by, just in case.
After you’ve chosen your heat source, the next step is to keep the heat in the room. During an emergency, it’s best to limit yourself to heating one room to make the most of your limited energy supply. Trap the heat in by using space blankets or rescue blankets. Their reflective nature will help keep the heat from escaping if you hang them on the walls.
4. Charge Up
In case of a weather emergency, be sure you can communicate with the outside world, and it can communicate with you. Have on hand:
- A cell phone — Make sure it’s fully charged at all times. If it gets low, charge your phone in the car or use a portable charger.
- A battery-powered clock
- A battery-powered radio or hand crank radio
- Flashlights for everyone in the home
- If there is a snowstorm coming, make sure to fill your gas tank. The gas in your tank can freeze if it’s less than half full.
- If you have a landline, make sure you have a corded phone. Cordless phones are less likely to work during a power outage.
5. Back Up
What if the blizzard strikes and you’re in your car? You’ll be ready if you stock your car with survival essentials:
- Flashlight with new batteries
- Cell phone with car charger
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Emergency flares and matches
- Spare tire or tire repair kit and pump
- Rock salt, sand or kitty litter — the non-clumping kind — to improve tire traction
- Rope and tow chain
- Blankets or sleeping bag
- Warm clothing — Hats, boots and gloves
- Bottled water and nonperishable foods — Like the ones you’ve stored at home
- First aid kit
Don’t like having to scrape ice off your car? Weatherproof car covers are a great option because they are resistant to tears and can handle the cold temperatures well, to prevent ice formation.
6. Bark Up (the Right Tree)
Your pets can’t prepare for a snowstorm, so you’ll have to do it for them. Stow away:
- Extra food — Don’t let the stock go low in case you can’t get to the store.
- Manual can opener — If your pet eats canned food.
- Bottled water — Set some aside for your pets. Don’t plan to share from your supply.
- Extra kitty litter — You don’t want grumpy cats if you’re housebound and can’t get to the store.
- Additional sleeping bag or blanket — Unless you plan to share yours. Even fur-covered pets get chilly if the furnace stops working.
It’s just the way the natural world works. Frosty the Snowman is better suited to wintery storms than you are. Equip your household for cold weather survival, and you can sit contentedly, watching the flakes swirl. Beats shivering while you open your last can of cold baked beans.
About The Author: Megan Ray Nichols is the editor of Schooled By Science. She enjoys learning about the environment and world around her. She believes that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys hiking, fishing and stargazing.