We’re in for a strong El Niño winter this year, meaning lots of snow and lower temperatures across many of the states. While that’s no cause for panic, it is crucial that you stay prepared during this time of year. The following 10 items are at the top of the list for winter survival — keep them on-hand to stay safe and warm during a severe weather event.
1. Snow Shovels
Starting off the list is perhaps the most essential item for winter survival: shovels.
While anyone in an area that gets snow will almost certainly own a sturdy shovel, it is essential that you keep yours in good shape, especially during winter weather advisories. Also, be prepared with a backup shovel or two, just in case one of them breaks. Shovels are your most reliable way of excavating your house, keeping the driveway and steps free of snow and ice and creating an easy escape route during an emergency.
2. Car Blanket
Some of the worst winter emergencies can occur when you’re driving. It’s easy to hit a patch of black ice or catch your wheel on a snowdrift. Even if the incident isn’t too severe, there is always a chance you could be stranded far from help and need to hunker down in your car for a while. Keeping a warm blanket in your vehicle for these occasions is the best way to stay warm until help arrives.
Getting to the store during a snow-in can be nigh impossible, especially if the plows haven’t arrived your street yet. Make sure you have a supply of canned or nonperishable food that doesn’t rely on electricity to eat. Trail mix, beef jerky and canned veggies and beans are all excellent options for this type of situation. Be careful to eat the perishable food in your fridge first, as there is a high probability you will lose electricity during a storm.
4. First Aid Kit
Accidents happen. When they do, and there’s no reasonable way to get down the road to the hospital or doctor’s office, you need to have the materials necessary to make it through in your own house.
Having an extensive first aid kit will help you in any medical emergency you may run into when you don’t have any assistance. Be sure to secure extra medicine for any of your family’s pre-existing conditions or allergies. You can’t prepare for everything, but stock up with the essential bandages, antibiotic creams, scissors and a needle and thread.
5. Rock Salt or Sand
Your second step to shoveling should always be laying down a layer of salt or sand to keep yourself safe when heading out the door in the morning. More than 800,000 people are hospitalized due to slipping and falling each year — and that gets a lot worse if there are no usable roads to the hospital.
Like shovels, most people have a flashlight somewhere in their house. However, many people don’t know where exactly that flashlight is, and — ironically — could have trouble finding it once the lights are out.
Always have multiple flashlights stowed around your place, and keep plenty of extra batteries on hand, as well. A long-lasting flashlight with a good grip is your best option, as it won’t slip out of your hand and get lost in the snow. The Flateye is an excellent choice, as it fits well in the hand and has an excellent LED light. I personally have one of these, and it’s like having a car headlight in the palm of your hand. Super powerful, but also lightweight and easy to hold.
7. Winter Boots
Again, almost everyone has them, and almost everyone can benefit from maintenance and extra pairs.
Most people don’t go through the process of waterproofing their boots, which is a huge mistake once it becomes necessary to walk long distances through the snow. The heat from your feet and the friction of walking will cause snow to stick and melt on your boots, inevitably soaking your feet if your boots aren’t proofed. Walking to get help for an emergency or going into town after you lost your car in a ditch or snowbank is a lot harder when your feet are wet and freezing.
There’s plenty of water around you when it snows. However, unless you want to go through the process of boiling and decontaminating all that snow, it’s a much better option to have bottled water or to fill up your own bottle ahead of a storm. Pipes freeze, and losing your supply of fresh water can be a deadly inconvenience.
Part of surviving a winter event is dealing with the boredom and cabin fever that inevitably comes after hours of being cooped up inside without electricity. Luckily, if you have plenty of candles and flashlights available, a book or two will last you through the worst of the event. Even people who aren’t big readers can peruse some magazines or other forms of old-fashioned entertainment. Board games are also a worthy investment.
10. Ice Scraper
Keeping your car in good working order is essential, especially if a real emergency arises. Make sure you have a sturdy ice scraper for removing the worst of the snow and ice from your windshield and door handles.
With another rough winter coming on strong, you’ll want to stay prepared for the worst mother nature can throw your way. Keep these 10 items in mind as you gather your supplies to ensure personal safety, warmth and comfort through the worst winter times.