With winter coming, is your preps winterized? No, I’m not talking about dumping RV antifreeze into your pipes or loosening caps for freezing liquid expansion. I am however talking about winterizing your preparedness mindset and having stuff squared away for a cold winter especially if you lose power or may get your car stuck in a ditch. If you are new to preparedness, you may have over looked the common seasonal emergencies.
Shelter is the most important survival tool in any preppers arsenal with exposure killing more people in a disaster than any thing else. This is the easiest item to have as well though, if you are reading this, you most likely live in a house or apartment. Whether you own or rent a house or apartment, you still must be prepared for no shelter option. Have you ever went into a room or building in the winter and felt that it was colder inside than out in a snow bank in the yard? In a power outage in the dead of winter, your shelter could have the same effect. You have to keep your shelter warm. A generator is a great way to keep your furnace blowing heat in a outage, but not all have the funds to have a big enough generator to do this. Apartment dwellers are generally not allowed to run a generator as well. Cheaper than a generator is a inverter and as Steven Harris most Americans have a ten thousand dollar generator in our driveways. You can buy inverters with a high enough wattage to run most modern furnace blowers. This will take preparation to do and you will want to ask advice or have a experienced electrician to wire the proper adapter into your furnace. You may also want to check out Mr. Harris’s website Battery1234.com to learn how to make a battery bank to give you power for other devices in a outage.
In the event that running your furnace is not an option, you have others to stay warm. There are a lot of methods to create heat, for example, two years ago many residents of Michigan were powerless the week of Christmas and kept warm with candles. Enough candles burning can accomplish a suitable heat source although I only recommend this as a last option, plenty of people got sick off the fume exposure. Candle heat sources also include danger of fire, instead I’d recommend a propane or kerosene heater. You can purchase them from most hardware or sporting good stores. When purchasing one though, I highly encourage you to get a model with oxygen or monoxide sensor. Heaters with these sensors will shut-off if the fumes get too high, you can use a non-sensor models and just keep a window open while using it. Don’t forget to stock up on propane or kerosene as well to keep the heater running. All this could also be avoided if you have a working wood stove or fire place, just make sure you have enough seasoned wood split and stacked outside. Do not wait till you need the fire place or wood stove to test it, last thing you need is a chimney fire or a blockage in the chimney.
Insulation is crucial to keep your family warm. If you are limited to a heater, it would be best to set up a room in your residence to be heated. An interior room that does not have any wall sharing outdoors is best, but you can really only do this with a heater with auto-shutoff. Have a lot of extra blankets and use some of them to drape down the walls especially it you have windows, this will add to your insulation. It would not be a bad idea to put that window film insulation on all your exterior windows, but if you can’t do that on all at least do it on your designated “heat” room in the fall before snow hits. While you have blankets hanging on the walls, make sure to keep heaters or candles away from them.
Food and water storage in the winter does not change as much. The only change to to your storage should be moving enough water to your warm “heat” room. How much should I keep in there? I’d say put 5-7 days worth of water per person in this room. To avoid getting stuck on day 8 with blocks of ice, depending on the size of your storage containers, rotate a cold container in to the heat as you use a thawed one. It would not be a bad idea to set cold or iced water containers on or in a cooking pan or something that collects condensation. You want to avoid any blankets or clothing in your warm room, water will eliminate any insulation rating and cause people to get cold, I’d recommend boiling water for cooking outside the room as well. Try to also avoid sweating, this will also deplete the insulating of your clothing, if you get wet, remove the effected clothing and let it dry near the heat source while the individual stays warm in dry blankets or a sleeping bag.
Ok so to summarize, some items to make sure you have in your home for winter goes as follows:
•propane/kerosene heater (auto-shutoff preferred)
•extra propane cylinders/kerosene (no such thing as too much)
•seasoned dry fire wood (if you have a WORKING fire place or wood stove)
•blankets (wool surplus, down comforters, regular comforters, sleeping bags, etc. can’t have enough)
•window film insulation kit (installed prior to needing)
•thumb tacks or finish nails (to hang blankets for insulation)
•extra warm clothes (thermal underwear, wool socks, sweat shirts, flannels, etc.)
•your existing preps (this is assuming that you are already a prepper and have flashlights, candles, am/fm radio, food/water, emergency stove, etc., if not then you should read more articles on emergency preparedness as well…)
Now what if you go in the ditch and you are stuck in a snow bank. Your car bag should be switch to cold weather preparedness. You should have wool socks, thermal undies, winter hats, and gloves along with hand warmers in it. Along with switching your bag to a cold weather setting, you should add blankets or sleeping bags to you vehicle. As stated above, shelter should be your number one priority. As long as your vehicle is not a safety risk like sitting in a river, burning, or on it’s side/roof, stay in it. Crack a window if you run your engine to stay warm, this will help avoid affixation if your exhaust is blocked. Try to avoid getting out of your vehicle unless you have fresh boots and cloths to change into once your back in it. Any snow on your clothes will melt and deplete your warmth in the car. If you store your bag and gear in your trunk, hopefully your rear seats open into it. Plan ahead with extra outerwear clothes in your vehicle if you have to get out to get in the trunk.
Just like insulating your walls in your house during a winter power outage, you should also drape blankets over windows and doors. Heat sources in your car are limited due to the amount of space inside and how many flammable materials in it along with a 10-20 gallon gas tank. You will have to rely on body heat more than space heaters. Emergency blankets help reflect your body heat as well, hopefully you would already have a few in your bag anyways.
I recommend when driving in the winter to stay on main roads, but I know this is not alway possible. When you are stranded in a ditch, have a distress signal posted on your somewhere visible to other drivers. You can make a bright colored sign or if you can find a emergency car flag that mounts in your car window. Hopefully you are within cellular phone service and call for assistance, but as with staying on main roads, you may not be able to stay in a service area. HAM mobile radios work good if there is no cell service, but requires the skills to operate it properly. To gain the proper skills for HAM, look into getting your license. In the event that you do have to leave your vehicle, try to wait till the snow storm had passed and the sky is clear and only move during the day. You do not want to get traps with out shelter in a snow storm or at night when it is colder.
The following items you should add to your vehicle for the winter (as before this is ASSUMING you already have car bag):
•blankets or sleeping bags
•wool socks, thermal underwear, gloves, winter hats, etc.
•extra set of coat and snow pants
•distress signal or sign
•portable HAM (get licensed so you can develop the skills required to use it)
Hopefully you don’t have to use these preps, but in the case that you do, better to be ready than trying to play catch up.
Please send any questions or comments to podcast@APIIINation.com
For information on getting involved please visit our resources page on APIIINation.com or email info@APIIINation.com
You can also join our forum