A severe arctic blast is threatening much of the eastern parts of the United States bringing with it record lows and bitterly cold winds. We thought now might be a good time to remind our friends of the best ways to prepare to hunker down in your homes until the storm blows over.
How do I prepare to survive a severe winter storm in my home? It is easier than you may think. We have outlined the process in these simple steps.
- Stock up on Water
- Stock up on Food
- Stock up on Medication
- Stock up on Sanitation Needs
- Prepare Your Home
- Prepare to Stay Warm Without Electricity
- Prepare to Cook Indoors Without Electricity
- Prepare to Light Your Home Without Electricity
Let’s take each of these categories one at a time and explore what might make surviving a severe winter storm more like a grand adventure than a disaster. We hope that you will have electricity for the duration of the storm, but it is a good idea to be prepared for life without it. Winter storms are notorious for causing power outages.
Stock Up on Water
A power outage is occasionally accompanied by a disruption in the municipal water supply. You may be left without water for the duration of the storm. Stock up on cases of bottled water. You should plan for at least 1 gallon per person per day of drinking water and 1 gallon per person for sanitation needs. Calculate the amount you need for the duration of the storm and then double that amount … just to be on the safe side.
To learn more about storing water go to How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness to discover the best ways to store water.
And just in case you run out, check out Emergency Water: 17 Potential Sources where we show you where you might be able to locate water after you run out of your stored water. We demonstrate how to harvest water from your hot water heaters in that post. That knowledge may come in handy.
Stock Up on Food
This is a good time to stock up on foods that are simple to prepare and some that require no preparation at all. Granola bars, trail mix, crackers, fruit cups or even fresh fruits (apples, oranges, bananas) are good choices that do not require any preparation or refrigeration. You can eat cold cereal right out of the box or canned soups right from the can if you have to. Make life as simple as possible. Remember to purchase warm drinks and comfort foods that will make this experience a bit more pleasant for everyone.
Our post 3 Month Supply of Food: Amazing Peace of Mind will give you some great ideas on how to build a supply of everyday food that can last your family for months. We also provide some helpful tips.
Stock Up on Medications
Well before the storm’s anticipated arrival, visit the pharmacy and refill all of your medications. Purchase a supply of over-the-counter medications that you may need including pain relievers, cold medicines, cough drops, throat lozenges, children’s pain relievers and cold medications, Vitamin C tablets, sleep aids, etc. You know the medications that your family uses. A little home pharmacy is a great resource.
Remember tight quarters in the winter can be a breeding ground for illness. Prepare in advance so you do not have to brave the storm to get the medication you need.
Stock Up on Sanitation Needs
Toilet paper is definitely something you may be tempted to brave a winter storm for. Stock up so you don’t have to risk it!
Power outages can bring challenges that leave you without running water and working sewer system. Learn how to prepare to handle crisis sanitation at Prepping for Basic Emergency Sanitation or watch this video.
Prepare Your Home
Your home is your most valuable shelter from the storm. What can you do to make it keep the heat in and the cold out more efficiently?
Insulate the windows. Windows provide valuable light, but you lose a significant amount of heat through them. Close the blinds and curtains. Add additional insulation by covering the window with plastic sheeting, bubble wrap, cardboard or even blankets. Remember the goal is to keep the cold out and the heat in.
Check for cold entry points around doors, windows, plugs, and switches. This is best done in advance and repaired with weather stripping, foam insulation, and caulk. In a pinch, you could temporarily seal up those drafts with tape.
Prepare to Stay Warm without Electricity
Without power, your home may get very cold, very quickly during a winter storm. Plan an alternative heat source and make sure you have enough fuel to keep it going until the power returns.
Carbon Monoxide is a deadly killer and the rate of incidences dramatically increases during power outages. Don’t risk it. Only use heating devices that are rated for indoor use and use them according to the manufacturer recommendations. Store fuel safely and legally. Learn more about storing fuel at Where Can I Safely Store Popular Fuel for Emergencies?
Selecting the right heat source for your unique situation is important. Check out our post, Best Alternative Heat Sources to Use During a Power Outage for some great ideas on alternative heating devices that are safe to use in your home.
If you lose the ability to heat your home, select one room to be used as a living area. Ideally, this room would be a living area that includes the kitchen or wood-burning stove. Do the best with what you have. Isolate it from the rest of the home using blankets to block off the hallway or adjoining rooms. The goal is to limit the area that you need to heat.
We turned off our power in the dead of winter to see if we could stay warm without any alternative heat. We learned many valuable lessons that may be of interest to you. One really cool thing we learned was to create a microenvironment using a tent inside of the living area. Read about it at Surviving a Winter Power Outage – How to Stay Warm or watch this video.
Prepare to Cook without Electricity
A hot meal is never more welcome than when you are cold. Safely cooking without electricity can be just a bit challenging because your choice of fuels is limited. Our post, Safe Indoor Emergency Cooking Solutions is a wealth of information on emergency cooking indoors.
Don’t put your family in danger by using cooking methods that will put carbon monoxide into your home. Be very careful with the open flame. We also created this video to share with you some ideas about how to safely cook indoors when the power is out.
Prepare to Light Your Home without Electricity
The combination of both cold and dark can be depressing. Fumbling around in the dark is a sure way to have an accident. Make sure that you have working alternative light sources to meet all of your needs. Stock up on fresh batteries for light sources that require them.
We have some good ideas for you on alternative lighting options at Brilliant Ideas to Literally Light Your World During a Power Outage. You will be amazed at the number of safe ways you can provide light for your family without electricity. We also created this helpful video to get you started.
You Are On Your Way!
As you prepare for a severe winter storm, you cover all of the basics you need to put into place to be prepared for other disasters. You are off to a great start.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Just do the best you can. Any advanced preparations are better than no preparations at all. Take each area one at a time and make consistent small steps to become a little better prepared each day. Preparing for your first winter storm will make it much easier to prepare for future storms. Be safe and warm!
Thanks for being part of the solution!