9 Ways to Survive a Winter Storm

Winter is on its way, and some parts of the country have already had plenty of snowfall. Preppers living in areas that get lots of snow have a difficult challenge to face, because they need to prepare for winter storms.

A winter storm could be as short as a day but have a devastating and potentially lethal impact. At minimum, it could last several days and disrupt the normal flow of daily life. In either case, you need to be prepared for the worst. Here are some tips on how to survive a winter storm.

Staying Warm

It shouldn’t be any surprise that your first priority during a winter storm is to stay warm. Try to stay indoors.

Your first line of defense against the cold is to wear warm clothing. Fleece is very warm, and pretty much anything made of fleece (or wool) is a good bet.

If the power goes out in your house, you might not be able to heat your house properly. In that case, you should do some rudimentary insulating around the house.

Put towels at the bottoms of doors to prevent drafts, and plastic wrap can be taped around windows for insulation. You can also buy inexpensive plastic insulator kits.

If you’re really cold and you don’t have any other means of heating your home, there’s a neat trick you can do to create homemade heaters.

Start a fire outside and place rocks in the fire. After they fully heat up, bring them inside and set them on something that won’t catch fire like a baking sheet. Then swap them out once they get cold. Just don’t use river rocks, because they might have moisture trapped inside that will explode once they heat up. Land rocks will work best.

You will also benefit from having cold weather survival gear prepped ahead of time. The electric hand warmer provides plenty of heat, and the TACT Bivvy sleeping bags will save you if all else fails.

Preventing Dehydration

Next up is securing water sources so you don’t die of dehydration. People tend to think dehydration only happens in the summer months, but it happens in winter more often than you’d think.

A common but incorrect survival tip is to physically exert yourself to stay warm. This is bad because it’ll cause you to sweat. When the sweat evaporates, you’ll become colder after you’re done exercising, and it’ll also cause you to waste fluids and become dehydrated.

The easiest way to prevent dehydration is to stock water reserves in your home. An adult drinks about one gallon of water per day, so assume five gallons for each person to survive a winter storm just to be on the safe side.

It’s a good idea to have a backup water supply, too. You can bring snow inside and wait for it to melt and then purify it, though this is less desirable because you would be letting heat out to get the snow. Never eat snow while it’s still cold because you’ll just waste your body heat melting it into water. Instead, wait for it to melt. The Lifestraw is a great little water filter you can depend on.

Stocking Up on the Right Gear

Since you’ll be staying in your house the entire time, you only have access to what you’ve already stockpiled.

Take some time to verify you have all the gear you need ahead of time. Check to make sure you have enough batteries, warm clothes, food, and water.

You might also want to buy an extra snow shovel and sidewalk salt or sand just in case you need to leave in an emergency.

Light Sources

If the power goes out, you’ll need some way to see. Flashlights are the first thing that comes to mind for many, but it turns out they’re not so great for house lighting.

Flashlights are meant to be mobile and shine in a specific direction, not to provide general light to an entire area. Instead, the better option is to use a battery or hand crank lantern, or some other powerful light.

Solar isn’t an option during winter because there’s not enough light, and you’d have to go outside to use it. Batteries should last long enough to get through a winter storm, but hand cranks are better.

Stocking Food

You could go without food for the span of a winter storm if you had to, but who wants to go through such a miserable experience?

Eat perishable food first, such as whatever you have in your fridge and freezer. Only after you’ve eaten the last of your perishable food should you dig into your stockpiled survival food.

Also, don’t depend on getting much of anything from the grocery store. Not only is it unnecessarily dangerous to make a trip to the store, but you probably won’t find anything worthwhile. Stores tend to be out of stock before a big storm hits because everyone panics and buys it all. Good thing you stockpiled non-perishable survival food, right?

Backup Power

It’s pretty common for the power to go out for extended periods of time during winter storms, and the power companies are pretty slow to repair them, so it could be a while before it comes back.

You’ll need electricity to power things like cell phones, radios, and other vital equipment. Small electronics can be powered with a personal power bank so you can call for help if needed or check on loved ones.

If you want to get through the power outage in relative comfort, you should invest in a larger power pack.


During a winter storm, you’ll be mostly on your own, but it’s still a good idea to maintain basic contact with others.

Make sure your cell phone has a charge and you’re able to make a call. Buy a power bank for your cell phone just in case.

Prepping for a winter storm would be much easier if you had an advance warning that it was coming. The weather channel is usually good enough, but sometimes the news just slips past you. A special-purpose weather alert radio gives you emergency alerts specific to your county.

Emergency Medicine

Depending on how bad the storm is, you might not be able to get regular medical help. You should always have a first aid kit in your home, and this is usually enough to take care of minor to moderate issues.

It’s interesting to note that frostbite isn’t your biggest issue during a winter storm…it’s your other medical issues. The elderly have an increased risk of blood clots and heart attacks when their body temperature drops. It’s especially important for the elderly to stay warm for this reason.


Who knows how long you’ll be cooped up in your house, possibly without power? It’s normal to go a little stir crazy when that happens.

An easy and fun way to take the edge off is to have some form of entertainment that doesn’t require electricity. It’s a good idea to keep a few board games in the house, as well as having a few decks of playing cards.


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