Winter preparedness: 10 fantastic winter survival tips

I don’t know about you guys.

But its cold up in here.

We had our first ever sugar on snow, straight from our yard. We even managed to have enough of the right kind of snow to make an entire snowman family in the front yard. Our days have been uncharacteristically sunny and cold, and our town is decorated with icicles and frost bloom.

Our first winter here wasn’t nearly so poetic. The first snow left three feet. The second snow left another three feet. Over the course of the winter, we had so much snow our driveway was reduced to a thin, one lane path. My vehicle, a 2 wheel drive Expedition, hit a patch of ice and got stuck. In our driveway.

My neighbor nearly cracked a rib from laughter.

We sold my Expedition that spring.

Since that eventful year, we have taken steps towards eliminating that kind of mayhem. Not all our mayhem of course, but at least as much of the mayhem of the winter variety as we can manage.

Here are our top 10 picks for winter preparedness!

1. Stock your emergency kit.

We keep a vehicle emergency kit in the car at all times. This isn’t a portable bug out bag, instead its a kit meant to live in the car.

We recently upgraded our kit from a suitcase to an orange water cooler. This gives us a large container to store water, should we need to.

In this kit, I include items for all seasons. Extra sets of winter clothing (including boots, winter socks, mittens/gloves, coats) for each member of the family, along with extra heavy blankets.

I also add an extra ice scraper, a bag of rock salt, a bag of kitty litter or sand, and several packs of hand warmers.

2. Make your vehicle cold proof.

No matter what age your vehicle is, get it ready for winter weather. Check all your fluids, and get any work done that you have been putting off.

Change your wiper blades, brake rotors, and make sure you have a deicing agent in your washer fluid. Change your filters, and even clean out the car.

Nobody likes to be hip deep in snow, trying to clean out last week’s french fry boxes. Take the time to start your car with a few minutes to warm up, especially for older vehicles.

Be gentle to your engines, the weather is taking its toll. You should also invest in the best aftermarket brake rotors out there.

3. Invest in excellent cold weather gear.

Don’t waste your time on a winter coat, gloves, hat or any other winter wear that doesn’t do the job of keeping you warm.

A $20 coat of JCPenney that doesn’t keep you warm is a waste of your $20. Invest in the real deal.

We have had excellent results with Lands End and LL Bean for our daily life winter needs.

For more heavy duty needs, we have preferred Patagonia gear.

For boots, the same is true. When we first moved, in a fit of frugality, I choose a pair of snow boots from Payless and nearly landed myself a nice case of frostbite after a day out. Lesson learned. Kamik for the win.

Also, layer your winter gear. You’d be amazed how quickly you can break a sweat in zero degree weather.

4. Prepare for a power outage.

Winter is probably one of the worst times to experience a power outage. If possible, set yourself up with an alternative heat source.

Our home is all electric, so a power outage in winter is serious business, and means we have to leave the home for warmer shores.

Ideally, we would like to have a propane or oil based heat system as a back up. We have chosen not to do so because of our impending move, however it is high on our list when house hunting begins.

Make sure you have a stock of ready to eat foods, and water available to you as well.

5. Cold proof your home.

Get yourself a storm door.

Seal up any gaps or cracks, and apply a heat keeping film over your windows and unused doors. Close off any rooms you don’t frequent, so you can save the heat for the rooms that matter most.

If you want to preserve your floors, get a good sized rug and drip mat for wet boots. We even have old sheets that we lay out for the dogs to walk on after they come in, to avoid tracking in mud, snow and salt.

6. Check the weather report.

Winter is the most important time to watch the weather, and plan ahead.

Winter storms bring ice, heavy snow, and white out conditions. You do not want to be driving home in a white out with a trunk full of groceries. Trust a sister.

Check the weekly weather forecast each day and plan your trips accordingly. Even if the weather suggests flurries, be prepared for a full on heavy snow, just in case. Mother Nature is a finicky lady.

7. Stave off cabin fever

We don’t like to travel much in winter, due to the weather conditions and because we hate getting the truck crusted with corrosive salt. Add this to my new regime of challenges for money saving, and you have a recipe for cabin fever.

Come to this fight well armed.

The internet is full of ideas to keep the mind occupied.

We have been working on craft projects and playing the snow, reading up on prepping, teaching Little Lady to sew, and learning ways to start fires. We’ve also begun weekly “new recipe” night, which features either a recipe we’ve always wanted to try, or a camp fire recipe for wilderness readiness.

Hone your prepper skills and use the time to bond with your family.

8. Cold proof your pets

Because of the sheer depth of snow we receive, we have to shovel out a section of the yard for the girl to use as a potty spot.

We also have to take care to make sure the deck stairs are cleared of snow, and that there are no patches of packed snow or ice for the girls to slip on.

Take care as to what type of deicer you use on areas that pets frequent. Many are irritants to the skin, or could cause illness when ingested..

I also keep a handy stash of sweaters and coats for the girls, for when the cold becomes too much for them. We also lay out old sheets for them to clean their paws on as they enter the house, and I often use them to remove snow that gets caught between their toes.

9. Stock your medicine cabinet

Winter is the season for spreading germs.

Right now, our entire country is under a nasty flu epidemic. I for one, don’t intend to be dragging my miserable self to a drug store if our family gets sick.

Through couponing, I have managed to full stock our medicine chest with cold and flu meds for both adults and Little Lady. Some of these are even homeopathic!

10. Keep it clean

We are back to germs on this one. We have a policy when we are out. First, never touch your face. Second, always use sanitizer. Each time we get back into the car, we use sanitizing wipes or foam. And each time we come home, we wash our hands.

Cleanliness is your first defense against illness. I also make a habit of washing any clothing that is worn out, the same day we wear it. I’m not a huge germaphobe, but I’m no lover of the flu either!

What are some of your favorite tips for winter prepping?