Preparing the home for winter emergencies

23rd January 2020

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Winter is just around the corner and there are no predictable ways of knowing precisely what you will need to see you through until spring, you can put together a winter emergencies/survival plan. When the forces of nature suddenly wage war against you often are bordering on panic and are not thinking straight. This article will guide your thinking toward possibilities for winterising your home and how to plan for the occasional storm, power outage, blocked roadways, lack of communication and flood.

Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Of course, you know it’s nothing personal, the wind blows where it blows, rivers rage and run headlong wherever force and gravity dictate and ice and snow form whenever the conditions are just right. Still, you need to be mentally functionally and up to the task of survival.


Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Plan ahead

Stash away rock salt to melt the ice and snow on walkways and sidewalks. Substitutes for that will be ashes from your wood stove. Sand will do well to make getting your car out of the driveway but must be dry and available. A barrel full in the garage for such needs is advisable. Of course, you have snow shovels and other snow removal items. Even with heated driveways, when the power is off, these will be useless. Heating fuel for alternative sources of heat such as oil, wood, and coal will need to be stockpiled in the garage or in some covered outbuilding.

Freezing rain

Be aware that freezing rain is sleet when it hits the ground making the ground one huge shield of ice. Attempting to walk or drive on this will almost surely bring on a disaster, injuries, car wrecks, etc., therefore stay inside. Blizzards are blinding snowstorms that reduce visibility to near zero. Stay inside.

Power outages

Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Plan ahead

Plan ahead on how to deal with these winter maintenance problems by having alternate sources of heat such as oil heaters, and wood-burning stoves. Make sure these are vented and will not in themselves be additional sources of danger.

Ample supplies

Have an ample amount of blankets and warm clothing so that everyone in the family, if need be, can cover themselves when there is no heat and the temperature drops to near zero.

Impassable roadways

Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Plan ahead

Planning ahead for this will follow along with guidelines for other situations when you are homebound and have needs beyond the ordinary. Your food pantry should always be stocked with extra food that can be eaten in times of emergency. Being blocked from getting to the market because of mudslides, rocks and trees falling across roads in strategic places will most likely be taken care of soon. But what if they are not? These may follow along with other problems caused by flooding or bad weather.

Survival kits

Survival kits should include instructions for any health conditions that family members should have in case they are in need of emergency services. Communication lines should be open for any and all possibilities for immediate evacuations due to accidents, critical asthma attacks, heart attacks or strokes.

Lack of communication

Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Plan ahead

Plan ahead for communication needs. Whatever else can be said for the overuse of cell phones, they do save lives. Stalled cars need only rely on a cell phone or a passerby with one to get immediate help. Call in for health care needs or instructions or medical evacuations.


Keep battery radios in good working order so you can be aware of warnings of severe weather conditions. Keep all possible lines of communication open such as TV, radio and the internet.


Winter emergencies: what to prepare for

Plan ahead

Plan ahead for possible flooding. Park your car on higher ground if you live in low areas prone to flooding. Be prepared to wait out the flood in the car if necessary.

Supply box

Have blankets, water and food in the car or cars and prepare to wait out the flood. At least have a plan of how to escape when flooding is imminent.


Your home is your fortress and hopefully, it is strong and sturdy and all-natural forces such as trees planted to block the force of winds, expert insulation, will protect you against the ravages of winter emergencies, storms and blizzards. Plan if possible, for the impossible or more likely, the improbable. Annually you must recheck and restock your supplies and amend – if necessary – your plan. The particulars will depend on where you live.

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