With early winter storms making their way across the country, winter is certainly upon us. If you have been procrastinating, it is time to get up off your duff and get your preps ready for the winter season.
Put the garden away
If you are a prepper, I hope you at least have some sort of garden in place, even if it is just a patio container garden.
Fall is the time to put it to bed, or maybe even keep it going. Certain cool weather crops can over-winter and allow limited harvesting. Other crops like root veggies and tubers should be dug and put up in storage. Or you can mulch them heavily and harvest them “fresh” from the garden all winter long.
If you don’t over-winter or store anything, consider fall plowing (or tilling). If you turn in your mulch and add organic matter this fall you are one step ahead of the game come next spring. The organic matter in my garden breaks down better if I fall till rather than just pile it in the garden over the winter and then till in the spring.
Build your car kit
Having a kit for your car is important all the time, but winter is an even more important time, since the prospect of becoming stranded is much higher.
In addition to normal kit items like jumper cables, tools, flashlight, cell charger and water, you will want to add a blanket or two, food items in rodent proof containers, candles with matches, extra road flares and possibly a bike flag on a fiberglass rod for signaling.
Always try to keep your fuel above half a tank, and stay on top of your fluid levels and tire pressure.
Seal the house
Fall is the time to seal up all those pesky cracks around your windows and in the siding. Use caulking for the little stuff and foam sealer for the bigger gaps. It is good to check work from years past since the caulk and sealer will sometimes work itself loose and be leaking air again.
If you have leaky windows, it’s time to put plastic over them. We used it for years before we got our new windows. There were times during strong winds that the plastic would be billowed out like a sail. You can imagine how much heat would be going out without the plastic.
When the snow is flying is not the time to realize your kids don’t have winter coats that fit any more. Winter clothes and boots can be hard to keep on the kids, especially when they grow two sizes during the season. It pays to plan ahead.
If you want to save money by turning down the thermostat, make sure everyone in the family has their own personal blanket to snuggle each evening while reading, playing games or just watching TV. You can stay pretty comfortable even with the thermostat turned down if you have a good blanket.
Check all your hats and gloves to make sure they are in good shape. Having spares for all your cold weather clothing is a good thing to put away if you can afford it.
If you have a local thrift store, look for bargains. Sometimes quality gear and wool clothing or blankets can be picked up cheaply.
Lay in supplies
An acquaintance of mine said of super storm Sandy, “I didn’t realize the world ran on AA batteries”. Make sure you have a large supply of batteries for everything you may need to operate in an outage. Rechargeables are ok as long as you have a way to charge them. You may need several solar chargers in order to keep up with your demand.
Hit the sales after Christmas and pick up several marked down candles. I like the large three wick pillar candles. They burn for many hours, put out some heat, and you can rig up a way to heat some food over them. The bonus is when you can find them cheap, at closeout prices.
If you use lamp oil, now is the time to pick up extra, just in case. You can use kerosene in your oil lamps but the liquid paraffin smells much nicer. Speaking of kerosene, make sure you have a five gallon can if you have a kerosene heater. You don’t want to be out in the nasty weather trying to fill the can when you run out.
Pick up a bunch of food that can be quickly and easily prepared. It should be something that takes minimal preparation and cooking since you may not have power. I hate to sound cliché, but ramen fits the bill pretty well. Other meals include pouches of dehydrated entrée’s. They only require hot water for a warm filling meal.
The last thing you need to make sure you have is a source of potable water. Most experts recommend one gallon per person per day.
Winter is a time of year that any disruption can cause things to spiral out of control quickly. Take the extra time now and make sure you are prepared to deal with the extra challenges it might throw at you.
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