Six Tips for Surviving Winter Emergencies

I am taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.”

Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter. I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series.

Today’s topic is “Prepping for winter emergencies.” The participating blogs for this week include:

Timber Creek Farm
House Barn Farm
The Not-So-Modern Housewife
Homegrown on the Hill
Schneider Peeps
Blue Yurt Farms
Survival at Home
Simply Living Simply
Five Little Homesteaders

After reading my post, please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs and learn about what they do to prepare for a winter emergency on their homestead.


Six Tips for Surviving Winter Emergencies


As we head into the winter season, lets talk about some important events that can make life dangerous or at the least, uncomfortable. I was never a boy scout, although I was a den mother, but the motto of Be Prepared often comes to mind when thinking about seasonal preparations. In the winter especially, we can encounter difficult weather related situations where we may wish we were prepared. 

It is often the subject of jokes but being prepared for snow storms doesn’t mean standing in line buying milk, bread and toilet paper. With a little planning, you can have everything you need in house. Truly being prepared for winter means more than buying these three staples when winter weather approaches

Here is a list of some things that you can think about before winter storms or emergencies occur.

1. Electricity can go out and make you wish for the generator power you now hear starting up all over the neighborhood. The time to buy one of these is during off season sales. Keep an eye out in early spring, or mid summer to obtain the best price if buying a new generator. If you have a fireplace in good working order or a wood stove, don’t wait to get some firewood stacked near the house. Make sure your fireplace chimney or your wood stove exhaust pipe are working properly before lighting a fire.

2. If you live in a home with a septic system  you need to understand how this works. The water that is pumped into your home for running water and flushing toilets requires electricity to run the well pump. With a family, not being able to flush the toilets may mean that you have to evacuate your home after a day or so without power. If you have a septic system, think about having an available tank of non-potable water that can be used to flush the toilets. 

3. Storing  food all in one place can be catastrophic. I recommend a combination of canned, frozen and dehydrated food stores in your house. If you don’t can fresh produce or even store any food beyond what leftovers you had for dinner last night, I strongly urge you to gather enough food and water for at least a week for your household. And don’t forget the manual can opener. When you depend  on driving to a store or fast food restaurant for food, you run the risk of being without food during an emergency. Oh and don’t forget your pets! Keep some extra food for them too. Keeping a weeks worth of food and water in your house does not make you an extreme prepper.

4. Emergency cash. In the event of a widespread emergency, banks and ATM machines may not be operating. This is my biggest pet peeve when talking about being prepared. If there is a widespread power outage, or any emergency that keeps businesses from opening, it will not matter how much money you have in the bank if you can not access it. We all are so used to carrying a debit card that we don’t imagine a possibility of the card not working. But this is a very real possibility during an emergency. Have some cash on hand. The amount will vary depending on your family size, where you live and how you shop. My advice is to have at least $20 per person in your household.

5. Gas in the car–  Keep your car fueled up. If you absolutely have to leave your house during a weather emergency, the last thing you want to do is run out of gas. Traffic will be moving slower than usual. You may end up on a highway in a traffic jam. If you run out of gas there, you not only endanger yourself but also others on the same road. If an ambulance cannot reach you , you may need to reach them by using your own vehicle. I have seen this happen in my own area, in the mid-Atlantic region where blizzards are few and far between. Just don’t let your tank fall below half full during the winter season.

6. Warm Winter Clothing is essential. Winter clothing for emergencies includes warm socks, waterproof gloves, boots and coats . If bad winter weather only happens occasionally, consider buying gently used boots and coats from a consignment store. At least you will be able to protect your feet from frostbite if you have to walk somewhere during an emergency. I also recommend keeping some inexpensive warm clothing in your car in case you are stranded in bad weather. 

 Following these suggestions may not make the weather any better but it may help you survive an emergency in top condition. 

 Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments. I welcome your thoughts on preparing for winter.