Winter is just around the corner, especially if you live in a state where inclement weather is the winter norm. But regardless of where you live, it’s a good idea to have a winter survival kit on hand, both at home and in your vehicle. Getting stranded outside at night or in your home without power, even in fair weather climates can be a chilling experience if you aren’t properly prepared. Today we’ll go through a basic list of winter survival kit necessities for both your home and your car.
Five Essentials for Your Car
Between ice, snow, cold weather, and the increased chance of accidents during the winter season, it’s a great idea to have a winter survival kit in your car in case you become stranded on the road or in a ditch. Within minutes, your toasty warm car can become cold should you experience a loss of power, so you’ll want to have some basic supplies on hand to stay safe and warm until help arrives.
What are some of the things you might want to have on hand?
- A warm blanket (or two), big enough to accommodate the number of people you have in your car. Hand and foot warmers are also a good idea to help keep people warm while waiting for help to arrive. Also, make sure hats and gloves are always in the car, as well as socks and a pair of boots if you don’t normally wear them during winter. It’s easy to get caught in the habit of not being prepared as we assume we’ll only be running from the house to the attached garage and from the underground parking at work to the office, and therefore not have enough warm clothing with you if an emergency arises.
- A shovel, sand or kitty litter (the non-clumping kind), or ice melt to help get you out of an icy spot if need be.
- Snacks and water to keep hunger at bay (your body burns extra calories when it’s trying to keep warm) in case of longer term hiatuses in the car, and a flashlight or battery-powered lantern to provide light should you become stranded at night. Also: make a habit of keeping your gas tank over half full to eliminate the risk of running out of gas in winter.
- Flares, lightsticks or other reflective tape-type items to put around your vehicle or on your coat will make both you and your car visible to other drivers should you become stranded at night.
- A fully charged cell phone. Turn it off if you need to in times of non-use in order to preserve power for when you really need your phone.
Six Must Haves for Your Home Winter Survival Kit
Ice and snow storms can cause long power outages that can result in an inability to heat your home. If the power outage is going to be long-term, get to a safe place with power, such as a family member or friend’s house, or a nearby hotel or Red Cross facility that has working power. If it’s going to be a short-term power outage and you can stay home and tough it out, there are some things you’ll want to have on hand to make it through.
- A fully-charged, battery powered lantern and flashlights to provide plenty of light.
- Extra blankets and sweaters nearby so people can bundle up as the temperature in the house drops. Sleeping bags are also a great option for a chilly house.
- A decent supply of non-perishable food and snacks that are already cooked, as well as a gallon of water for each member of the family per day that you want to be able to survive at home without power.
- At least a three-day supply of both over-the-counter medicines and prescription meds on hand at all times, in case you can’t leave the house to get more.
- A fully charged cell phone at all times. Don’t let those cell phones get too low on power so that you have no options for outside communication if you’re stranded inside due to a big storm, and turn off the phones when not in use to save battery power.
- Consider installing an alternative heat source, such as whole-house generator, a wood-burning stove or fireplace if your climate warrants it, in order to give your family more options for staying warm during a winter power outage.
Being stranded, whether at home or in your car, is never fun. However, being stranded during the cold winter months changes the game entirely. Make sure you’re prepared well to “weather” any cold weather emergencies.
Have you ever been stranded during a winter storm? What other items would you add to these lists? Do you have a winter survival kit? If so, what’s your ‘must have’ item that you can’t weather winter without?
Photo courtesy of: Jason Jenkins