Staying warm is going to be your number one priority. It doesn't matter what other supplies you have on hand if you freeze to death first. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you're set. We really want to get a wood stove put in just in case it happens again, but haven't been able to yet. Not only does a wood stove give you heat, but you can cook on that bad boy. We were lucky enough, that within a couple days we managed to get our hands on a generator. Having a generator is a must if you are in the country or an area prone to severe weather and power outages. Our generator was only able to power our fridge, a lamp, and two heaters, but that is because we allowed our neighbors to tie into it, so they could run heaters too. In a crisis, it is good to know your neighbors and be kind to them, you never know when they can come in handy. If you are heating with a space heater, limit the area you are trying to heat to one room. You can always hang plastic or blankets in doorways to keep heat in the area you want.
But what do you do if you have no fireplace or generator? Well there are other things you can do to keep warm........
- Clothing - Layer up! You want to keep warm, but not sweat. Sweating is counter productive to staying warm. Have wool socks on hand, a knit cap, and of course gloves. Your extremities will get cold first so watch your fingers and toes.
- Blankets - Make sure you have blankets on hand to cuddle under. Cuddling under blankets with a family member is a bonus, share your body heat with each other!
- Check for drafts/leaks - Cover windows with blankets to help keep the cold out. You can also roll up towels and put them along doors to help keep cold air out.
- Make a heat source - You do not want to build a fire in your living room, but you can always build one outside and warm rocks or bricks, which you can wrap in towels and bring inside to place under blankets with you.
We all need water to live, it is a must. You will need about a gallon a person per day just for drinking. It is always good to keep a few gallons of water on hand in case of an emergency. If you live "in town" your water should still flow, unless your pipes freeze. If you live with a well, it is even more important to keep extra water on hand. Worse case scenario, you can melt snow. Make sure you you bring it to a boil and if possible, filter it.
You have all seen the images in the media of grocery stores being emptied out with the news of a winter storm bearing down. Do not wait till a storm is coming in order to get food supplies. Don't count on the store being able to restock either. If the weather is that bad, trucks might not be able to make it through. If you have a way to cook your food, your lucky. If not, you are going to want to have on hand things that don't require cooking to ingest.
Bread and peanut butter may get boring, but the protein in the peanut butter is a good source of energy for your body. Crackers and cheese are another good source of nutrition. Grab some granola, nuts, beef jerky and fruit. Don't go for prepackaged junk food as the empty calories and sugar will do your body no favors when you trying to generate body heat.
If you can heat water (even if it is outside on a fire) you can add food items like oatmeal and soups to your food options. You can also boil pasta, rice or whip up instant mashed potatoes!
Since winter storms happen, well, in the winter, the days are shorter and you have a lot more "darkness" to deal with. Having flashlights (with fresh batteries) on hand is a must. But batteries can die quickly if you have children always turning them on! A hand cranked flashlight is worth the money. Candles are also an option for lighting, just keep them out of the reach of children and pets. The last thing you want to do is set your house on fire. Oil lamps are better for illuminating an area, where flashlights are good for walking around. If you have mirrors, they can be positioned to reflect the light around a room, making it a bit brighter.
Once you are staying warm, have light to see by, and food and water to stay alive, your going to get bored. If you have children, they are going to get bored even faster! Our oldest, who was 7 at the time, begged us to plug the TV into the generator. Sorry, kid, the gas in the generator is for survival items.... not cartoons!!! So what do you do to combat the hours of silence, broken by the words "I'm bored?" Here are just a few ideas.....
- Board games
- Deck of cards
- Paper, pencils, crayons
- If you have a big cardboard box, turn it into a "tv" and let your kids act out shows
- Indoor balloon volleyball
- Look at old family photos and reminisce
- Paper airplanes
- Simon says
- Make a masking tape hopscotch on the floor
- Tic, tac, toe and hangman
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Have a stockpile of batteries. If you have pets, you are going to want to include a stockpile of food for them, as well as their water needs. If people in your family are on medication, never let your on hand supply get low enough where you might run out if bad weather hits. Keep your vehicle gas tank at least half full at all times. Gas station need power to run their pumps. Also, gas supplies may go quickly if a large area of people need the gas for running their generators. Unplug all your electronic, so when the power does come back on, nothing gets fried. Leave one lamp on so you know when the power does come back on. Don't be a grump. No one is having fun during the situation, but a negative attitude can make it even worse. Try to find the bright side or silver lining.
Stay safe, stay warm, and I hope you never need to use these tips!