Currently, a winter cyclone is projected to bring much of the East coast to a screeching halt where forecasters are warning to prepare for heavy snow, hurricane-force gusts, and blizzard conditions. With these types of frigid storms, expect schools to be canceled, flights to be canceled and utility companies to have widespread outages. Given the record-breaking low temperatures, hospitals could see a record number of cold weather injuries from the grid being down.
Track the rain, ice, and snow here.
How to Prepare for Extreme Winter Weather
The primary principles for preparing for these types of extreme weather is to concentrate on the basics: heat, food, water, and first aid. Keeping the core warm by layering clothing is your main priority. Exposure-related injuries such as frostbite and hypothermia could occur quickly with this type of weather. This will be discussed further in the article.
In an article on winter preparations, writer Jeremiah Johnson outlines the fundamentals.
The wood stove (wood burner, if you prefer) is the answer to keeping the abode heated when the temperature falls. This is crucial to keep your pipes from freezing. The problem being when you heat the place up too much (you should see mine…it’s only about 3’x2’x2’ but can heat the place up to 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit in nothing flat). Too much heat and your food in your refrigerator is going to go bad faster.
I have learned in this case to just put one or two logs in to start, and then feed it with one log at a time. This will enable you to keep the temperature about 70 degrees and not throw so much heat on the refrigerator. For lighting, the best thing you can shake a stick at is the tea light. You can pick up inexpensive tea-light lanterns, and position them throughout the house. Get the ones that have a little-hinged door, and a base that’s about 1” thick. Such will keep anything it rests on from heating up. One of these in each room, and you’ll be good to go. The good news is the tea light candle will burn for about 3-4 hours.
You can pick up 50 of them in Wal-Mart (unscented) for about $2.75 a bag. Put a fresh candle in each one of your lanterns, and preposition them in your rooms judiciously. When the lights go out, it’ll make it a lot easier for you. I also found a really nice deal on a flashlight. It’s made by Coast and has about 126 lumens (not a big light), but it has a nice wide beam and can be adjusted for a spotlight. This flashlight is very similar and comes with a two-way clip that works well on a baseball cap visor. The best part is that it runs on just one (1) AA battery. Runs you about $20 and will fit right in your pocket, as it’s about 4” in length.
Now with food: after a couple of days, you’re either going to need to hook up your fridge to a generator. The other option is to seal up your most durable food that can take a freeze in plastic bags and place them outside in plastic bins. You’ll have to gauge according to your geographic location. You can use your frozen foods in the freezer to help keep your unfrozen foods cold for about another additional 24 hours. Here in Montana, it gets cold enough that everything will freeze in general. This works well with foods that are already cooked and leftovers. As well, have these shelf-stable foods on standby to have in your survival pantry for these types of emergencies.
Remember, with a wood stove, you can heat up your stuff in foil on a baking sheet on the top of the stove. These actions can be taken after 48 hours if you keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. Now, keep in mind: you must wrap the food in plastic and put it in bins, especially if you have either wolves or bears in your locale. These winter scavengers (black bear…as the grizzlies are “snoozing”) are opportunistic by nature and will come for a ready meal that is not “camouflaged” from giving off aromas.
Water is an issue that needs to be dealt with before the power cuts off. I highly recommend purchasing at least two 5-gallon water jugs for each member of the family, as well as a water filtration system like Berkey. Yes, that’s a lot of water, but each person needs about a gallon per day. Stock it up before the power cuts off. A lot of people say that you can’t use snow, but that’s malarkey: put the snow in a large pot (5 gallons) and place it on top of the wood stove. You’ll need that any way to keep the wood stove’s heat from drying out all of the heat in the house, as the vapors from the steam act as a humidifier. Plus, you’ll always have hot water available, another bonus.
I also highly recommend a “porta-potty” type sitting toilet, a chair-type with a bucket for hygiene. You can line that bucket with 5-gallon plastic bags, and with the use of baking soda on each visit, you can use a bag for 5 to 7 days per person. It’ll save you water, big time, and in a long-term outage (such as forever, with an EMP), you can burn the waste or dispose of it in a pit outside. This of course if you don’t live in Happyville, the USA with ten thousand neighbors per square mile. If you do, and it’s grid down, then the rules “change,” so to speak.
Winter survival is dependent on the supplies you have in place. Even the slightest bit of exposure can immediately affect your body. Here is a list of several injuries and problems encountered in a cold weather/winter environment:
- All stages of hypothermia
- Snow glare and snow blindness
- Life-threatening storms
- Immersion foot
- Vitamin deficiencies (long-term situations)
- Stranded/transportation break down
- Lack of food and water
Make sure you have the proper supplies in place for winter medical emergencies.
One thing is for sure, this year’s winter is brutal and unrelenting. Prepare accordingly and expect to be affected in one way or another. Having some basic supplies can go a long way. So, stay warm, and follow some of these life-saving tips.
Here are some great articles to help you focus on winter survival!
Health and First-Aid