Preparing for Winter - Make Sure you Are Ready
Fall is in full swing and winter will be here soon. There are so many things to do to get ready for it. There are many things we do to prepare for winter now, so that when the cold weather hits we don't have to worry. It is almost like a nesting instinct really. Here are some of the things I have been doing.
Getting the items in the house ready for winter is a good idea. Do you know where the kid's coats are? Better yet what about those hats, mittens and gloves that tend to scatter all over the house. Finding these now will save you a headache when you wake up to a cold morning. It is time to get out your winter clothing and have at least some of it available. I know that the weather here is unpredictable and one day we are in shorts and the next long pants and shirts and sometimes even a jacket too. Trying to get out of the house early in the morning is a lot easier when I don't have to hunt through boxes for the right size winter clothing.
What about blankets? I know we quickly went from not needing covers at night to the kids being freezing. It is time to air out the blankets and quilts that have been stored the past 4 or 5 months. Have those washed and ready to put on. I prefer to hold out turning the furnace on as long as possible and making sure we have enough blankets available at night helps with this. It is getting so much cooler in the nights, but the house heats up fine during the day. This is definitely fall weather.
Do you have an emergency kit in your car? Snow is right around the corner and you need to be prepared. I have a small Rubbermaid container that I have stocked with items I would need in case we were to get stranded in the car. It has water bottles, hard candy (sugar gives you energy), a small container of peanut butter (protein), granola bars, packs of gummies, a collapsible cup for melting snow to drink, heat warmers for hands or feet, a fold up blanket to help you retain your body heat, an extra pair of wool gloves and socks, Ziploc bags, a small flashlight, batteries stored separately in a Ziploc bag to prevent them from getting wet, matches, bottles of isopropyl alcohol and a make shift heater.
For this make shift heater I took an old coffee can and shoved a roll of toilet paper (minus the cardboard tube) into it. If I were to need to use this I would pour the alcohol over the toilet paper and light it. This would warm up a car pretty quickly and could be used off and on for quite some time. Always make sure you have a window or two cracked though for safety reasons. Speaking of cars, did you know that you should never let your car's gas tank fall below a half a tank?
Other things we keep in our cars during the winter are a couple of old blankets, a small fold up shovel (for digging out of a snow bank), extra windshield wiper fluid, a first aid kit (actually this stays in year round), extra hats and gloves, and some books and magazines. If you are stranded somewhere for long, especially with kids, you will want something to read or do. You could even keep a deck of cards in there. Other things that would be good to have on hand would be a pocket knife and compass. We also always have our cell phones with us and almost always wear our coats.
While we are talking about emergency preparedness, let's think about our homes. Winter time can bring heavy snowstorms or ice and wind in many parts of the country. Preparing now for those things could very well be a lifesaver later. Do you know where your flashlights are? How about extra batteries? Candles and matches are another thing you would need if the power went out. Do you have a wood burning fire place? Now is the time to chop some wood. If it is -10 degrees, snowing and you have no heat, the last thing you want to do is go out and chop wood. Get a supply ready now so that you don't have to worry later.
Do you have extra food and water? Food that could easily be prepared over a fire or maybe a grill is a good thing to have on hand. We have a grill with a propane tank and while we would have to cook with it outside, it is a way to prepare food. Canned items are quick and easy and can usually be eaten without heating if necessary. Soups are particularly good for times of emergency. Pastas will cook quickly with just boiling water. Top with a jar of spaghetti sauce and you have a meal. Having a well stocked pantry is a must have in the winter. The recommended amount of water in an emergency is one gallon of water per person per day. This is for hygiene reasons as well as drinking water.
Having extra blankets, quilts and even sleeping bags readily available will make things easier if you don't have any power. If it is dark in the house, it will be hard to find everything you need to face a bitterly cold night with just a candle or a flashlight. We seem to always run short of batteries and the kids are always playing with the flashlights. I was concerned about not having a working flashlight when I needed one. We invested in a hand crank flashlight and radio combo. Cranking that flashlight up will generate body heat and I have a free source of light and news. Both are very important in the winter. We paid around $15 for ours, so they are very reasonably priced. This would also be a good thing to have in your car.
What about prescription medicines? Many people have prescriptions that need to be renewed each month. Most insurance companies will let you renew them when there is one week of pills left. Try to get your prescriptions filled as early as possible so that you will not be caught at home with only one day left of important medicine. This is something you should do all year long, however in the winter the weather plays a much great factor in things, so it is more important than ever to do this in the winter.
I always enjoy preparing for winter. I get great satisfaction in knowing I am prepared to take care of my family if an emergency comes up. Taking the time in the fall to take care of a few simple things is one of the best things you can do to prepare for winter.