With winter fast approaching, it’s that time of year where you need to start reevaluating your cold-weather preparedness plans. While the danger from winter weather varies depending on where you live, even areas that aren’t prone to extreme winter weather can be affected this time of year.
Just one look at the picture below, a picture that was taken hours before a winter storm hit Atlanta, Georgia, will tell you why preparing is so important.
Within hours of the storm hitting, a storm that only dumped 2 inches of snow throughout the region, grocery stores were stripped bare by worried residents who weren’t used to this type of weather. People were so unprepared, that thousands of Atlanta residents actually left their cars on the highway and slept in department stores until the storm passed.
Now is the time to make sure you have enough food, water, and emergency supplies to make it through an extended winter weather emergency.
The last thing you want to do during a winter storm is be out on the roads. That being said, some emergencies make it impossible to stay at home, and there are times when you may find yourself stuck out on the road in the middle of a big storm. That’s why it’s important to prepare your vehicles for cold weather survival, and take steps to make sure you can survive while out on the roads.
- Vehicle Maintenance Checks: Winter weather can cause all sorts of problems for your vehicle; which is why it’s so important to keep up on your vehicles routine maintenance needs. Fluid levels, air pressure, and battery maintenance are all things that should be routinely checked.
- Emergency Road Kits: Many people make the mistake of thinking they’re safe because they’re traveling on a major highway, but that might not always be the case. Winter storms can quickly turn even urban highways into deathtraps; stranding drivers in their vehicles in freezing cold conditions. Make sure you have a bag filled with emergency winter gear, extra food and water, and warm clothing and heating supplies.
- Be Prepared to Stop: Far too many deaths happen on the roadways this time of year; sadly, a lot of these accidents could have been prevented had the driver just pulled over and found a safe place to hunker down. Wherever you’re going and whatever you think you have to do can probably wait.
Some things to keep in mind when preparing for winter driving conditions:
- Batteries are much weaker in cold weather, now is the time to inspect your battery and make sure it’s able to hold a full charge.
- Cold weather can wreak havoc on your tires: For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tires can lose as much as 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure.
- Even something as simple as a defective wiper blade can be a serious danger during a winter storm. Make sure you’re keeping up on your vehicle’s routine maintenance, and immediately replace anything that’s outlived its lifespan.
Once the season start to change, you need to break out your bugout bags, open up those long forgotten vehicle kits, and reevaluate your emergency plans for the season.
- Check Everything: It may seem like overkill, but now is a good time to completely unpack and check every piece of gear in your bag. Not only should you be scanning for signs of wear and tear, but you should also be determining if the gear’s right for the coming season. A pair of shorts really doesn’t do a lot of good when there’s 5 feet of snow on the ground.
- Battery Checks: From flashlights and portable radios, to communication equipment and electronic survival gear, now is the time to test, and replace the batteries that have been sitting in your equipment. Not only can a dead battery be a major vulnerability in a survival situation, but old batteries can degrade and leak corrosive battery acid into your electronic equipment.
- Rotating You Food & Water Supplies: With every change in season, you should be reinspecting your food and water supplies; making sure to swap out anything that’s getting close to its expiration date.
If you or someone in your family depends on any sort of medication, or medical equipment to stay alive, you need to take the time to stockpile those supplies.
- Ask your doctor to give you an extra prescription: You can also ask for samples. These samples can be added to your emergency stockpile without costing you a single cent.
- Learn the Basics of First-Aid. Basic first-aid skills are something that everyone should know. In many areas you can find First Responder Training through your local hospital, fire department, community college, or local ambulance service.
General Winter Survival Tips
- Know the ins and outs of Proper Insulation: In a survival situation, knowing how to properly insulate yourself, and your cold weather shelter can mean the difference between life and death. If you find yourself stuck out in the cold, insulation is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from the elements. Graywolf Survival also has some good tips on Insulation and Staying Warm during a winter emergency.
- The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World: If you haven’t checked out my book, I strongly recommend buying one – especially if you’re new to preparedness. It’s filled with tips, tools and techniques for surviving a wide-range of disasters, including winter emergencies.
- Preparedness Skills that Everyone Should Know: 32 Resources for becoming more self-reliant, better prepared, and better able to face threats, crisis, and disasters.