Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Preparing For Winter

Photo courtesy of www.don-denver.blogspot.com//2009/12/yule-blog-after-storm.html

Growing up in the Midwest, winter is never too far from my mind. This descendant of many generations of farm families tends to put on her "preparedness hat" as winter draws near. I have noticed that this is even more important to me now that I have children. If we lost power my husband and I would be fine, but we have an infant and she would not fare so well without heat. I can count on one hand the number of times in my whole life that we have lost power in the winter; however, that does not mean I shouldn't prepare for it. In January 2009 over 2 million people across 7 states in the Midwest were without power for an extended period of time, some for more than a week (Wikipedia).

My main four priorities are heat, water, food, and medications. I started by determining how long I needed to be prepared for and decided that two weeks should be more than enough. Even during the 2009 ice storm almost everyone had their electricity restored within two weeks. While I am not yet sufficiently prepared for that many days, I am definitely getting there. Most of the items I have purchased/would like to purchase are dual purpose in that they are also useful when camping.

I purchased a Mr Buddy Portable Indoor Heater on clearance from Wal-Mart this summer. It burns propane and is indoor safe. It also has a low oxygen sensor and will shut off if the oxygen levels drop too low. I have 4 small bottles of propane and figure we would use the spare propane tank for our outdoor grill as well. I know I will need to buy additional propane for heat but do not intend to run the heater all the time. I have chosen a room in the house to heat and have planned how to further insulate windows and doorways with blankets. I also have 2 oil lamps to provide lighting as well as 2 additional bottles of oil for them.

I have purchased 4 empty 5-gallon water containers and have also been cleaning and filling empty apple juice containers. I am considering other ways in which to store water, but am fairly certain that even if we did lose power we would still have running water. If push comes to shove and additional water is required, we could melt and boil snow to purify it. Additionally, given enough notice of an impending loss of running water, we would fill up the bathtub and use it as a giant storage tank.

I listed all the meals I could think of that I could create without any refrigerated products and determined, 1) how many times within 2 weeks we would eat what meals, 2) what ingredients were required, 3)  how much of of each ingredient we would need, and 4) where I could buy the few ingredients I thought were not necessary but would make the 2 weeks more bearable (powdered eggs, butter powder, and freeze dried cheese - many would say this is overkill). I also listed the items that would be required to cook the food and what additional items I would need. I just purchased a brand new camping cookware set at a garage sale for $6 (including a percolator; coffee just makes people more bearable when it is cold). We also have a propane grill and a fire pit. Items I am considering purchasing are a camp oven for baking bread/biscuits/muffins and a Zoom Versa.

I have purchased OTC (over the counter) medications that we might need for cold/flu season as well as extras of the regular OTC medications that we use. Also it is important to make sure you have enough prescription medications on hand. I have plenty of toilet paper, diapers (we use cloth), soap, hand sanitizer, bleach, and vinegar (a natural and effective yet stinky disinfectant). I would also recommend that you keep on hand an electrolyte replacement solution such as Pedialyte, Gatorade/Powerade or their powdered versions that you can mix up yourself in case you or your child has a stomach bug and dehydration is a concern. Lastly we keep an "emergency only" container of baby formula in our house in case I were too ill to effectively nurse our baby.

What are you doing to prepare for this winter? If you were to lose power for even 24 hours, are you prepared?


  1. Sounds like you have a good handle on things. The one thing that saved our butt during the ice storm was a generator. We could plug up different parts of the house, or barn, to run water, take care of critters outside, then run parts of the house to take warm showers (in the dark. Plus with the fireplace, we hauled all mattresses to the living room, closed off rest of house, and stayed there. Stayed relatively comfortable and even cooked in the fireplace. Burned tons on candles, which reminds me - what's the fragrance of choice this year?
    Keep planning, kiddo, you're on a good track. Love you all!