Depending on your geographical location…preparing for possible winter weather emergencies should be standard practice.  Early predictions from weather experts call for above average snowfall for nearly half of the country for the winter season.

Preparing for the Winter Season

Hopefully the weather service will stay up-to-date on winter storms this season and you have plenty of time to prepare for them.  The safest place to ride out a winter storm is typically your home.  Heavy snowfall and ice, along with blistering cold temperatures can really put a damper on things like…mobilization.

So, I’m going to go start a little series of winter weather survival principles that mostly cover preparation for your home.  Now some of this content is basic, so for those of you that have “been in the game” for a while it could either be refreshing or boring.  BUT…I’ll also go over some extra things you should have, such as Car Kits, Get Home Bags, and Every Day Carry items.  Everybody loves a little gear talk.

BASICS

(Preparing the Homestead)

Shelter

If you’re new to the survival world, you should know that shelter takes precedence in survival situations. If you’re in an area that’s getting pounded by snow and heavy winds, then you need adequate shelter (ie: your home).  If the National Weather Service is predicting even a moderate storm, try to keep travel to a minimum.  You can die in as little 3 hours from exposure.  That’s right….3 hours!  Now I know most of you reading this are thinking, “Well I have to get to work” or “I have to drop my child off at practice”, I know.  You have to earn your money and live your life, but stick to the necessities.  Just don’t decide to travel in a remote mountain range or hit the coast during hurricane season.

Shelter is a very broad term and it’s defined differently among many individuals.  My definition of shelter is basically anything that keeps you covered from the elements.  It could be the familiarity and comfort of your own home or the clothes you’re wearing on that given day.

Part 1 of this series is going to cover how to prepare your home (or apartment, condo, studio, trailer, etc.) for the winter months ahead.  In part 2 we’ll go in to supplemental shelter, which basically covers anything that isn’t your home.  Upcoming additions to the series are going to cover food and water storage, vehicle maintenance and car kits, Get Home bags, and Every Day Carry set-ups for any person to consider.

Heat

A fireplace or stove that uses wood or propane is ideal. If that’s the route you’ve taken, then make sure you’re stocked up on firewood or propane before season gets under way. You need to make sure you preserve and secure your fuel sources.

Wood: If you use firewood, make sure it’s stored under some sort of shelter that will keep it nice and dry. If it’s stored outside, again make sure it’s somewhere that access can be easily cleared if the area gets covered in heavy snow. If you get fair warning of any inclement weather and there’s snow in the forecast, I recommend bringing the wood inside to a garage perhaps, or somewhere in the house out of the way and secure.

Propane: If you rely on a propane fuel source, make sure you check your supply lines and connections for any leaks before the season hits. Like I mentioned earlier, you need to preserve your fuel source, and you don’t want a precious commodity to go to waste.

Natural Gas: I will give a quick mention to natural gas. If you’re using it for heating or for your cooking source (stove), you might want to look in to propane conversion kits and the necessary tools/skills to convert them.  If your natural gas supply becomes compromised, you then rely on some spare (and preferably full) propane cylinders stored for backup use.

Clothing

You should research cold weather clothing options extensively, because it is not a “one size fits all” scenario.  Several factors including budget, location, intended use, and personal style all come in to play.  I’m working on a comparison style grid for a future article that will outline all of these factors, which will (hopefully) make for a more well informed decision process.  Until then, I’ve listed a few things below, just to give some you some ideas.

Base Layers

Moisture-wicking base layers are a great option to consider.  In fact if you live in an area where longer periods of cold weather are common, it’s nearly a necessity in my opinion.  If you’re out in below freezing temperatures and you’re very active, you’re probably going to sweat.  Moisture and freezing winds are a one way ticket to hypothermia.  I’m not saying these things pull every drop of moisture from your skin, but they do help enough to justify the cost.

They come in a variety of fits, styles, sleeve lengths, insulation values…as well as cost.  The most popular option, by far is Underarmour.  Their ColdGear line is very, very high quality and it’s what I’ve always purchased.  Lately though, I’ve heard really good things about the Sub Sports COLD line.  I plan on trying them out this winter and seeing if it could be a cheaper replacement.  I’ll be sure to post up a review.

Outerwear

Make sure to get some warm, quality clothing options.  Wool outerwear is a popular option because of it’s strength, durability, and the fact that it holds most of it’s insulation value when it’s wet. However, if you happen to have an allergy, or you can’t get past the itch of a cheaper wool product, feel free to look into synthetic insulation options.  I personally wear this Carhartt Men’s Quilted Flannel Lined Jacket, and I love it.  Wall’s makes a Blizzard Proof Jacket that’s a little cheaper.

When choosing outerwear, you also need to consider your personal needs. If you’re going to be active in an area that hardly dips below freezing, you don’t need to wear insulated base layers and a big ass winter coat.   Like I said before, sweat is an enemy in cold temperatures and it can come in volumes that can overpower moisture wicking base layers. So choose your desired level of warmth accordingly, and by all means…keep a warmer backup in your car or home.

Footwear

Insulated boots are a must in cold weather in my opinion. Again, you need to consider the appropriate amount of insulation depending on how cold it gets in your area. I’d recommend a minimum 600 gram density Thinsulate, or something to that effect for areas that you can be exposed to below freezing temperatures on a regular basis.  I’m a Rocky man myself, but go with whatever brand you like.

Also make sure to keep a stash of good quality socks and keep them dry!  I personally love wool socks, and these Merino Wool socks are the best value I’ve come across…they’re incredible.  You can also get socks made from Alpaca, like these from Warrior.  They’re a little softer and not as itchy compared to wool, and they’re also hypoallergenic.  Synthetic is again, an alternative.  Just remember that dry feet are happy feet…nobody wants wet feet when they’re dealing with the threat of hypothermia.

Non-essentials/Comfort Items

Books

If you’re bugging in for the cold weather, you should have some sort of activities that can make use of any down time you may have. If you’re living by yourself or as a single couple,  look in to building a little library. I prefer old-school hard copies for times just like this. Get on Amazon and get yourself some hard-copied reading material and expand your survival knowledge base, or study something that you’ve always wanted to know more about. I also have a full library on my Kindle Fire HD 8, but it won’t do me any good if I can’t charge it. It’s never a bad idea to learn more skills or acquire new information, especially when it comes to survival or being prepared for a disaster.

Games

I’ll never forget when I was young, my family and I got snowed in at least once a year. My dad, being the wizard he is, always stayed prepared for the situation. We had plans and redundancies in place, so we could stay fairly comfortable and safe during bug ins.

We would have “pow-wows” where we would just all get together and play a board game or have a spirited rummy battle.  If you have a family, you should explore ways to spend quality time together in a situation like this. Keep a deck of cards and some board games stashed away for entertainment.