Although we do not know if or who will have a bad winter this year, the time is now to start preparing for it.
So, what’s in store for this winter? Here’s one forecast, and suggestions how to prepare…
“The Days-of-Shivery are back! For 2013–2014, we are forecasting a winter that will experience below average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation.”
Above-normal precipitation for the Midwest, Great Lakes, and Central and Northern New England to receive lots of snow.
Farther south, where the thermometer will be vacillating above or below the freezing mark, Southern New England, Southeast New York, New Jersey, and down through the Mid-Atlantic region will be seeing either copious rains and/or snows.
Significant snowfalls are forecast for parts of every zone. Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, we are “red-flagging” the first ten days of February for possible heavy winter weather.
Of course no one knows what this winter will bring, and in fact if you check and compare other forecasts you will find a combination of similarities and also differences. General trends are the best they can guesstimate; and even those may be completely wrong…
Well that’s the point of being prepared. We don’t know how bad this winter will be. So the logical thing to do is to be prepared for the worst.
How bad could it be?
Worst-case scenarios are those in which the power goes out for extended periods of time — triggered by ice-storms or severe winter snow storms.
Your number one concern for grid-down in the winter is HEAT. If the roads are too dangerous to travel (to leave the affected area), you will be confined to your home and at the mercy of power company crews making their way through the disaster. You need to have solutions to the problems of keeping warm.
Those with electric heat will obviously be in trouble. Same with those who rely on heating oil (no electricity for circulation pumps, ignitors, etc.). Even if you have gas heat (bottled or municipal) your furnace still needs electricity to run blowers or water pumps.
The oil and gas heat problem could be solved with a generator. If you don’t already have accommodations for a whole-house generator hookup, you might want to consider it. Unless you clearly know what you’re doing, hire an electrician to install this.
A wood stove is an obvious solution. If your home already has a fireplace, you might consider a wood stove insert (which is WAY MORE EFFICIENT).
There are smaller solutions which use propane (as in, for your BBQ grill) which may prove beneficial, like the Mr. Heater.
Consider having a winter-weather sleeping bag for each household member. Check the temperature ratings before you buy. This WILL keep you warm at night, MUCH WARMER than simply on a bed with blankets.
Check your winter clothes (all aspects). If you’re without power at home in the winter, you will want to have thermals under your clothes, etc. Socks that are purposely designed for winter warmth will also make a big difference.
If you have well water, your well pump will not work without electricity. Either have a generator, or be sure to store ahead some water. You might consider keeping a water-filled 55-gallon drum (food-grade) in your basement. Or if that is not an option, then at least store ahead quantities of water using other means, like soda-pop jugs or other water jugs.
It should go without saying, but have AT LEAST a few week’s worth of food for this scenario! Don’t be part of the crazed sheeple panic just prior to the onset of a storm as they rush to the grocery store for bread and milk.
If you’re a prepper, this is a non-issue as you’ve taken care of that long ago.
Have a camp stove for cooking without electricity. Be aware of the potential dangers while operating indoors. NEVER operate a BBQ grill indoors. Some small stoves are designed to be perfectly safe inside. Just check your model so that you know…
SNOW REMOVAL TOOLS
Check your supply of shovels. Consider keeping various styles — some meant for pushing the snow, some for scooping, small ones, large ones, the kind with a bent handle which makes it easier on the back, etc… ALWAYS keep a shovel in the car or the trunk. They make some nice small-medium shovels (some with collapsible handles) which could help get you out of a snowbank…
Your snow-blower or snow-thrower. Start it up and run it NOW, before the winter sets in. Make sure it runs okay. You might need a new spark plug. Get FRESH gasoline. Don’t use old gas that has not been treated. If your engine requires a mix of oil-gas, then be sure you have the oil and mix up a fresh batch. Use fuel stabilizers like STA-BIL or PRI-G.
You might consider getting a flooring removal tool. They can be very useful for chipping away at ice (on your steps, driveway, etc.) Stores like Home Depot or Lowes have them.
Salt for melting ice on stairs, driveways, etc. If you use a-lot of it, you might consider getting a barrel to keep it in along with a handy small shovel or scoop to apply it.
Replace your wiper blades now… you will thank yourself later.
Get a jug of windshield washer fluid, and be sure it is the kind that will not freeze (there are many varieties that WILL indeed freeze – so check the label).
It’s time to put the ice scraper and snow brush back in the car…
Consider keeping a bag of sand-salt in the trunk, along with a small or medium shovel.
Tire chains. Some areas of travel may require chains. If you get a set of chains, be sure to practice and install them once in your driveway when the weather is nice BEFORE you ever need them in an emergency.
Keep a 72-hour survival kit in the car which includes food and water. Keep a dedicated hat and gloves in the car. A warm blanket.
A cell phone charger for the car.
I could go on and on with scenarios and equipment for home and your vehicle while preparing specifically for the winter and its troubles, but I hope that this will at least inspire you to consider your own winter readiness. The time for that is now.
Feel free to comment with your own ideas, suggestions or experiences…