Preparing for Winter Storms (and the Potential Power Outages That Come with Them)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

In recent weeks, and even last year, we have seen some severe winter weather. Last year, Texas and parts of the deep South got hit with a winter storm that took out parts of the electrical grid. During this time, some reports trickled in of how the Texas grid was just minutes away from a total collapse. Just recently I had 14 inches of snow in one night.  Negative 20 degree temps (i.e. 20 degrees below zero) hit my home the other day.

Then there was Daisy’s daughter, Rachel and her BF, getting stuck on I-95 for 16 hours.

As I write this, another major winter storm is expected to hit the East coast all the way from New England down to Greensboro, NC. (For that matter, the National Weather Service in Miami, is warning the Arctic air mass could reach as far down as Florida.) Long Island could see up to 18 inches of snow. New York City? 12 inches. While that is a lot of snow, what is also in the forecast is high winds. Those conditions are more likely for us to have a power outage, one that could be for a prolonged period of time.

So how do we prep for that?

First and foremost, we take an inventory of what we have on hand. Granted, for us here in the Great White (snowy) Northeast, we have a well-stocked pantry on hand at all times.

But as I noted above, extreme weather events can happen to regions not used to them. I can speak to this from experience. I lived outside of Washington DC when a severe winter storm rolled through, similar to the one Daisy’s daughter experienced. We had a power outage for two days. In the dead of winter.

You have to prep for severe weather contingencies. And how do you start with that?

Take inventory of things you have on hand that can be used in a power outage, things that you might be low on, and things you are out of.

Then apply what it takes to maintain the basics of homeostasis (per the USMC definition):

  • Food
  • Water (to include sanitation)
  • Shelter (to include fire/heating/cooking, foul weather gear/clothing)
  • Security (to include not only physical security, but mental and Rx security.  A fire sometimes does offer a mental “sense” of security).

There are various minor differences in this approach, but they all address the basics of survival. Let’s dive deeper, however.

If you were to lose power for more than 24 hours, how would you deal with the basics of homeostasis? Here are some tips that can help…

Do you have the means to stay fed in a winter storm?

  • Foods that do not require cooking are the simplest solution. (Here are some ideas.)
  • However, a real hot meal can do wonders for morale in cold weather.
  • Freeze-dried foods, camp foods, instant foods are quick and easy, only requiring hot water.

The obvious question is this: if the grid is down, do you have the means to even heat water (let alone cook food)?

  • A gas or propane stove, as long as you have the means to light them, should not be a problem.
  • A wood stove with a surface area large enough to hold a pot of water or two will allow you to make some basic things on it. As an experiment I made homemade mac and cheese on ours one winter.
  • If you have an electric stove, obviously you are not going to be able to use it.

During the Arctic blast that hit Texas last year, I read more than a few accounts of people using their charcoal grills to cook in their garages.

Please do not do that.  Without proper ventilation, you can kill yourself doing this. If you absolutely had to use a charcoal grill, set it up just outside the garage door, garage side door, on the back deck or some place similar. Do not even attempt to use it in an enclosed area. Again, without proper ventilation, you can asphyxiate yourself and die.

Camp stoves with white gas or fuel canisters are good, but I would only use those in a well-ventilated area too.

As a prep, my wife pulled out a package of chicken legs, filled up the crock pot with water and let them slow cook to make stock. She then divided the stock into 2-3 cup containers and froze them. We find boiling things like grits, potatoes, and even pasta adds more flavor and calories. Then we can use the left over stock as a base for a soup, or a gravy.

Water. You still need it when surrounded by snow.

When I was living outside of DC with a winter storm bearing down on us, I filled one bathroom tub with water for flushing the toilet. Then, I filled every single water bladder I had for drinking or cooking (and I have more than a few of those).

  • A case or two of bottled water on hand at all times is a good idea too.
  • Currently, in anticipation of this storm, I have two 5-gallon buckets full of water sitting in the tub.
  • Last year, I performed an experiment and wrote an article about water consumption. Grid down, turn the tap and nothing comes out.  A little hot water, a wash cloth and you have a field expedient sponge bath. Might be a bit cold in a house with no heat, but it is doable.
  • Have you thought about your water lines? Busted pipes are no fun. In the ideal world, everyone would have PEX attachments, and those foam insulation tube wraps. Heating tape works well, but they also require electricity. But this is not an ideal world.

Can you stay warm in a winter storm?

In regards to a winter storm/power outage, this is more about clothing than an actual structure or home.

  • During and after the Texas arctic blast, there were more than a few posts of people gathering the whole family in one room, with what they had on hand – be it blankets or sleeping bags – to keep themselves warm. Buying cold weather gear, base layers, long underwear, mid-layers, fleeces, winter wool socks, winter boots, gloves or even a winter jacket may seem odd for those living in the Deep South, but it is a very good idea.
  • In the Marines, we put fire/heat under both shelter and in security (more on that later).
  • More than a few TOP posters from Texas during the Arctic blast, commented on how they initially had a stack of fire wood they thought was sufficient, only to discover that their stack did not get them past a few days. If possible, have at least a cord of well-seasoned hard wood on hand at any given time. For those of us who heat with wood during the winter, we usually have a winter and a half on hand.
  • The type of wood stove used can also vary in efficiency. Do you have as efficient of a model as possible?
  • If you are using a fire place, when was it last serviced? A chimney fire can be deadly, and being homeless in a winter environment is brutal.

Security during a winter power outage still matters.

In this situation, I am referring to a localized grid down, with expectations of service returning in just a few days to a week. I’m not referring to a SHTF event, though if you’re living through the outage it very well may seem like it. For more information on the levels of disaster, check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on such.

  • A prolonged power outage can be a stressful experience for some. We’re talking about a complete interruption of regular life with all of its modern convenience – hot water, TV, internet, etc. – all gone. A good book, deck of cards, board games all can help relieve stress.
  • A fire in a fire place or wood stove can provide a degree of security from a mental perspective, real or not. Ever notice how much more fun a camping is with a camp fire?
  • Prior to this upcoming storm, the wife and I topped off all our rechargeable batteries for our cell phones, tablets, flashlights, and headlamps. We checked the non-rechargeable flashlights, and our stockpile of batteries. We also made sure the battery pack to jump the vehicles was topped off.
  • If you are going to use non-battery light sources like candles or oil lamps, keep a few fire extinguishers in easily accessible places.  Take inventory of means of lighting candles or a fire be it a lighter or box of matches.  As a prep, the wife made more egg carton, wax, and dryer lint fire starters.

What are you doing to prepare for this winter storm?

Are there other steps you’re taking you can share to assist newer preppers to make it through what’s coming? Any helpful tricks you’ve discovered? Please share in the comments below.

About 1stMarineJarHead

1stMarineJarHead is not only a former Marine, but also a former EMT-B, Wilderness EMT (courtesy of NOLS), and volunteer firefighter.

He currently resides in the great white (i.e. snowy) Northeast with his wife and dogs. He raises chickens, rabbits, goats, occasionally hogs, cows and sometimes ducks. He grows various veggies and has a weird fondness for rutabagas. He enjoys reading, writing, cooking from scratch, making charcuterie, target shooting, and is currently expanding his woodworking skills.

Preparing for Winter Storms (and the Potential Power Outages That Come with Them)
1stMarineJarHead

1stMarineJarHead

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  • It sure is different prepping for a winter storm in an apartment. I have mostly ready-to-eat food for the possibility of a power outage. My bedroom doesn’t have a window in it so that’s the easiest room to keep cozy. The dog and I will bundle up in there if need be. I live in the south currently, so we shouldn’t have sustained low temps for too long to handle with just layers and off-grid strategies.

  • Now THIS is why I read this site. I want to know the how-tos, without the paranoid wrong-headed politics thrown in. So THANK YOU for this very useful article. I am in the “deep south” and we rarely get a hard freeze like we are getting this weekend and I have been trying to think of how to get prepared. I think I’ve done a lot but there are some things I hadn’t thought of here.

    I had almost given up this site due to the bonkers politics and paranoia, the fact-and-science-free assertions in (many, not all of the) poorly researched articles. And I was beginning to think that, other than those kind of articles, this was a site for people who just like to make lists of things they need/want to buy for when the zombie apocalypse hits. But I’m actually starting to do some prepping in a small way, although my family thinks I’m nutty (and my husband gives me the side eye, although he’s not complaining for all the cooking and baking from scratch I’m doing these days) for filling up my garage freezer with meat on sale and having multiples of cleaning and paper products etc stowed away in the spare room or garage. That didn’t stop my 70- and 80-something parents, lifelong believers in never buying anything until what it replaces is entirely and completely gone, from coming to my house to ask for some fire logs.

    Anyways, again, THANK YOU for this useful information.

    • lol, yeah Lorraine,, my hubby thinks I’m nuts too, and I live in coastal NC, hurricane area. lived in wv mtns awhile, since store was over hr one way, I always had preps though. have always had some preps (food/water etc) since growing up, but hubby didnt appreciate it until we didnt have power for a week, no well/septic either. he learned, now he still thinks I’m silly, because I’ve expanded my preps for more serious happenings. always had “to go” I could grab, stuff for the cats too. with the situation nowdays, I’m still ready for most things, but being my age (70+) dont know how much we could do anyway. hope we wont have to see, but ya never know. stay well and safe.

    • Howdy Lorraine!
      Glad you liked the article.
      One additional point, as you live in the Deep South, not sure how well your water pipes are insulated, but if they are not, and you may experience freezing temps, turn your faucets on so a steady stream of water flows. Flowing water does not freeze. I have done this even when living in the Deep South.
      Up here in the NE, I have a over flow pipe from my other well, that flows year round, even in those -20 below zero temps.

      Yeah, seeing the prices of meat going up, how can one not have a additional freezer and stock it with meat? Look around, price compare, if roasts, chuck cuts are cheaper per pound vs ground beef, consider grinding your own at home. And you know and can control what goes into your ground beef.
      Was talking to our UPS driver the other week, he ordered a chest freezer from Lowes. Took 6 months to deliver!

      Based off one of Daisy’s articles, my wife does the “use one, replace one, have a few/several stocked.” That includes TP, cooking oil, toothpaste, sugar, flour, yeast and more.

      • I’ve read a few articles that meat (hamburger ect) will be going as much as 10% come March. So, it’s definitely smart to stock up on it.

    • But what do you do if there’s an extended outage and everything in your freezer spoils?
      Also, I can’t dispute your perceptions about people. I’m the only rational person I know. Please don’t tell my wife I said that, since I love her even though she is included in that category of “everyone else”. But you’re right, unfortunately. People react emotionally way too often. It’s genetic. Emotions are triggered much more rapidly than the rational elements of our brain. That leads to endless insanity. I’ve applied for a change of species. But the Bonobos have rejected my application. Damn!

      • I am sorry UltraSkeptic, I am not sure I am tracking you.
        If I am getting 18 inches of snow and the power goes out, what is the issue?
        I raised two hogs this year. After bleeding out, gutting, removal of the head, I was looking at about 400lbs of hanging weight between the two. I ran out of room in the freezers with all that meat. Right now I have a cooler with about 30lbs of fat sitting, outside.
        Or are you in the South or Deep South?

        I can tell you, when I was living in Hurricane Ally, after two three days of a power outage, people busted out their grills, cooked up everything and we had a huge block party.

        The alternative to that, would be to cure and or smoke the meat. Prior to the electricity, us humans have different ways to preserve food for hundreds of years. I am currently curing about 40lbs of bacon.

        I agree with you about a number of people whom react emotionally. I think we have to remove that aspect of issue from the situation, look at things from a brutal, objective, stand point and make decisions that have our best interest or the communities interest in mind.

        • Thanks. I was just concerned that if you have a huge supply of food stores, but they all require freezing to remain safely edible, then there is the potential of a sustained outage which leaves you with a lot of spoiled food. I wasn’t suggesting that you’d starve to death – that takes weeks – but only that it would be more prudent to diversify storage systems. As you suggest, there are lots of different ways to preserve food which avoid dependency on electricity for their safe edibility.
          As to emotions, I’m glad that we agree. Whole industries rely upon our emotional vulnerability, using marketing tactics to sell us what we don’t want, shouldn’t have, or absolutely must avoid. Whether it’s unhealthy foods, ridiculous consumer products, or politics, we are screwed by the ability of very clever folks to distract much of the population from reality and persuade them that truth is false and fiction is fact. I look back now and realize that my patriotism and national loyalty was badly misplaced. I’d not enlist again, given the enlightenment I’m achieving as I become an antique. And I don’t intend to deny that we have done some very noble things in this country. It’s not our nation that is flawed – it’s the human beings, who don’t make very good decisions throughout most of the world. The best folks are the ones who live in small clans, shut off from the rest of the irrational world. And only some of them. I guess I’m rambling. Have I mentioned that I prefer a good eclair to interactions with most people?

          • UltraSkeptic,
            Ah! No worries!
            Tonight low, -4. Tomorrows high, 10!
            To be honest, I have gotten used to it here in the Great White North (i.e. snowy and cold) that anything in the 20s is “warm.”

            Good night about emotions and marketing. They feed on our fears, perceptions, and then profit off those. It is when we decouple from their mass marketing, or being self-reliant that they label us as “conspiracy” nuts for being self-reliant! They seem to want us dependent on their system or the government. Whole foods or our own garden foods? Your a nut!

            Hey, a good eclair or a cannoli or even pierogi, leave the gun!

      • I have a good stock of meat in my freezer. I am fortunate to have a gas stove, so I have a pressure canner and a stock of canning jars. In the event of an extended outage, the meat will simply get canned.

      • Thanks, I will. IDK if I always had a need to prepare for the unexpected; my family has always laughed at my tendency to “hoard,” as they call it. I started with toiletry items many years ago, especially soap. I remember when I was engaged to my first husband, my sister and mom made the HILARIOUS joke, laughing the whole time, that a side benefit of marrying me was that he’d get “a lifetime’s supply of soap.” Ha ha. To his credit, he didn’t laugh and told them both, “I don’t think that’s particularly funny.” The marriage didn’t work out but I was always grateful that he stood up for me being bullied and embarrassed like that.

        Anyways, I have vivid memories where there was just one sliver of soap for the whole family to shower with (always slimy and possibly with a pubic hair stuck to it), or keeping a worried eye on the only half roll of toilet paper in the house for five people. My brother and sister didn’t seem as “traumatized” by this.

        Prepping, done right, requires discipline and organization! Getting all that meat in means wrapping it properly for the deep freezer, labelling and dating, and using FIFO. Same thing with toiletries and cleaning products, flour and pasta and canned goods etc. I am determined to do this correctly and not to waste money by being too lazy or disorganized so that things get ruined or spoiled.

        Anyways, TMI I know, but I’ll let you know how we fare. And I’m gonna do that trickling pipe thing for sure. My parents won’t, I know, even though my dad was born and raised in Wisconsin and ought to know better.

        It’s nice to have a place where people understand and won’t laugh at me. But the political stuff on here is way too much. Thanks.

        • I figure that being aware of the political stuff is just one more way to prepare. Mother Nature can cause serious hardship, but so can the actions of other people, especially those who are in power. I really value the political info I glean from this site, and very much hope it continues. Thanks Daisy, and all the folks who contribute!

        • Lorraine,
          As Selco and Daisy points out, it is only the small circles, those closest to us, that we can affect.
          Do I, or We, have opinions for various world events i.e. Ukraine? Sure! Do those yahoos in DC actually care what we think?
          Nope!
          So we have to realistically deal with our small circles. Get involved with your community. Know your neighbors!

    • Lorraine – I agree with you.
      “I want to know the how-tos, without the paranoid wrong-headed politics thrown in.”
      Preppers come in all stripes: ages, colors, economic, educational, and political backgrounds. To belittle a commenter, because you have a different point of political view, or are angry with the current state of the union, is not useful.
      Prepping is prepping no matter the reason you do it. In a real world crisis I probably would not knowingly associate with someone who stands on the other side of the ideological fence. It could be dangerous. That said, our closest neighbor, here in the country, is on the other side of that fence. We trust them implicitly because we understand how to work together. That is what good Neighbors and Peppers do.
      I appreciate it when answers are done in good faith and not with animosity. Thank you.

  • When I was in college (a LONG time ago – they’d just invented college when I was a teen), we had a fairly lengthy widespread blackout following a big storm. My housing was okay thanks to my provident landlord, but a couple of friends called (our phones still worked in those days even during blackouts, so long as the copper wires were intact). Their rented home was freezing, and they could no longer draw water from their city water service. It was pretty cold, and they had no backup heat source whatsoever. Nor had they considered shutting off the water and draining the pipes. I spotted split pipes, still frozen, fortunately. I managed to shut off the mains before the pipes thawed, and this prevented the flooding which would have ensued and probably demolished their place and left them sued by their landlord, I imagine.
    I now have three levels of backup heating capacity, each a bit more difficult than the previous, but each a lot more durable than the predecessor: Batteries/inverter (keeps my heater going for perhaps 24 hours. A Propane salamander which I’ve never yet had to use for a power outage, but which would probably last another day with my gas tanks average reserves in really cold weather. And a wood stove, tucked in the barn (my wife ordered me not to install it after we moved a few years ago – she hated the “dirt”). The woodstove, of course, would last indefinitely, given the firewood I’ve stacked from downed trees. And if that runs out, we live in the woods, so there’s plenty more, if need be, even though it might not be dry enough to burn efficiently.

  • During ice storm “98” we took ice and melted it in a pot on the woodstove. Filled a garden water can with a mix of hot and cold to shower with! worked very nice! Cooked on the stove too! Also had a camping percolator to make the best coffee ever! We were out of power for 2 weeks. No generator then but have one now. Was prepping before then and it was a godsend that we had what was needed to get through that mess! Have all the lighting we need with candles and oil lamps plus the nice bell and Howell lamps. If you aren’t prepared I highly recommend you do what you can. Yea I’m a Mainer we’re used to this stuff! Stay safe everyone!

  • Having grown up in a part of Tornado Alley where winters often got down to 10°F below zero and power outages were common, I finished many school homework lessons at home by kerosene lamp. Canning and stocking up food for storage in a concrete sided cellar was also a regular part of life back then. Phone service didn’t go out during a power outage because the phone company back then supplied their own power so that home phones were independent of the grids — unlike today where most (not all) of home phone signals have been re-wired to come in via internet-based VOIP signals. Which means that such phones die during a power outage … so mobile phones “might” replace them unless cell towers go down as well. And most people don’t have satellite phones or ham radios.

    Some thoughts to add to 1stMarineJarHead’s notes

    Long ago I learned when using candles at home to rig them inside of clear glass pitchers with handles on them. That greatly minimizes the chances of tipping over and carelessly having a flame make a mess of your house — and minimizes the likelihood of needing to use a fire extinguisher.

    For someone who has not stocked up on large long-burning candles, I might suggest searching on YouTube for CRISCO CANDLE. That should bring up multiple demos of how to quickly make such incredibly long-burning candles regardless of whatever brand of such oil one might have on hand, or could quickly buy in advance of any storm

    Long ago I became somewhat of a collector of cooking gadgetry, some for outdoor use only but some multi-fuel types usable indoors. The GasOne brand of multi-fuel camp portable camp stoves can use butane or propane, for example. I have one long discontinued Volcano Stove, Jr that can use wood, charcoal or wood pellets — before the manufacturer added propane capability. I rigged a back porch mini-table for easy outdoor cooking with such gadgetry. If you want to cook indoors with whatever kind of non-electric fuels, acquire and learn to use a carbon monoxide detector — it could save your life if CO levels get too high.

    Another outdoor multi-liquid-fuel cooking gadget is the Geniol stove — a knockoff of the German Petromax portable burner from the 1920s. It will burn kerosene, diesel, and many other types of liquid fuels. The manufacturer does advise that burning gasoline is a really bad idea.

    During daylight hours when the sun is visible, there are six different types of solar cookers which are easy to research. Some are available at retail, but some are easy DIY buildables (think YouTube how-to videos). The most common are box and panel cookers. Then there are parabolics, Fresnel lens types, evacuated double tube cookers, etc. There are even some “hybrid” solar box cookers that have electrical backup for use when there’s no sun or at night. There are even some double tube cookers used to boil water in the presence of sunlight if boiling is sufficient in your area to kill bacteria for drinking safety. The major gotcha with solar cookers is that it takes you some time to learn about them and decide which of those technology types are most interesting to you and readily available — at either retail or DIY. This is not an ideal wait until the last moment concept.

    It’s a really good idea to check the weather forecast to estimate when a really bad storm will strike, and roughly how long it might last. You want to take a bath or shower just before the storm hits in case you lose city water for a few days. Drinking and cooking water should have highest priority instead of bathing. Using your bathtubs for higher priority water-filled Water BOB bags, for example, is a higher priority — unless you have garage space and room for 55-gallon water barrels, for example.

    Have you acquired any battery-powered radios so that you can keep track of any changing weather forecasts as well as news in general? Make sure that you have some rechargeable batteries for them. Some radios (such as those from C.Crane) have built-in battery chargers, but not all do. If what you have, or have yet to buy, does not have such built-in battery recharging capability, buy the charger necessary. Some of the best can use solar, 110vac or USB connections for power.

    It’s also not a bad idea to acquire portable toilet gear. Anything you can carry in a car for a camping trip can also substitute at home in case you lose your city water source. Amazon or Walmart are helpful for such porta-potties, but all kinds of outdoor and camping retailers abound. Stocking up on plastic bags and kitty litter for such portables is a really good idea.

    If you lose indoor heat … consider how Eskimos lived probably for thousands of years through their winters. To test out your cold weather clothing, turn off your heat and try that for long enough to find any weaknesses in your equipment, clothing and really cold weather strategy — long BEFORE a really nasty storm arrives.

    –Lewis

    • Lewis,
      Thank you for some really good ideas and comment.

      I will never look at kitty litter in the same light again.

    • Clumping cat litter would work well and IMHO, would be more frugal (short or long term power outage). And unlike standard clay litter (which is cheaper I will admit), is likely easier to store AND you can scoop if need be. Odor in the winter is likely as much of an issue as summer. I don’t buy the “Glade” scented however.
      Even if you buy in bulk box, you can easily transfer to jugs. One clumping brand comes in packages in the bulk box – just open a package when you need it.
      I’d prefer to have a whole house generator but compromised for essential power via generator. No power, no water is not ideal. I can live without A/C, just hang out in the basement but not an option for some.

  • 1stMarJarHead—–many thanks for a fine article. You have covered many points…….and give solid advice. I live upstate NY……Thanks again…Hang Tough brother

  • Excellent article. Excellent advice. Regarding power outages (summer or winter), check out “Olive Oil Lamps &c.” It’s Book 2 of The Non-Electric Lighting Series (written by yours truly) and is available on Amazon both as a paperback and as a Kindle ebook. It describes and illustrates some 15 different designs of homemade lamps that burn vegetable oil. Of the 8 books in the series, this is probably the most useful in an emergency situation — especially if you’re caught away from home (and away from your stockpile of preps) when the lights go out. TIP: Please don’t just read the book. Try a few things up close and personal, ahead of time, to see what works best for you. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KB7F9SU/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

  • Living in NH Nor’easters are pretty much expected every winter.

    Test Run Generator, look to see stored water and food ok. Start my outside vehicles as cold is hard on batteries. Wash laundry and clean house. Keep 96 hours generator run time gasoline on hand with stabil. Make sure the critters are watered, fed and secure.

    Check on my neighbor across the street, they are elderly but good neighbors.

    Settle in and read. Snow shovel and check in on neighbor as needed.

    • Thank you for checking on your elderly neighbors. These days a lot of them don’t have family close by (or even much, if any, family). Our kid has been doing grocery shopping for her elderly neighbors since Covid hit. Kid and kid’s spouse also shovel their elderly neighbors driveway when it snows.

  • I grew up in the North on the Canadian border. In 92 we had an ice storm so bad we were without power for 2 months. We had a gas stove for cooking, wood for heat, and I learned how to siphon our well from my father. Came in handy for forced flush…we slept downstairs with camping gear and adjusted well. My mother always kept candles and oil lanters- and I’ve taken what I learned and live by it to this day. I will say winter survival is easier from a food perspective- mother nature’s freezer is amazing! I don’t can the way my mom and gram do, but I do know how. We were never in want. Great comments and sharing!

  • We’ve plenty of lanterns and flashlights. Out stove/oven is natural gas and uses a pilot light as it’s old (not the newer auto ignitor type). So that will help with heat. We also have a tent that we can set up (doesn’t have to have the stakes). An air mattress and battery pump, and our sleeping bags are rated to -20 F°. I’ve 50 gallons of potable water in 5 gallon bottles. If needs be I’ve a small generator that will power an appliance if we need to. Though if it’s that cold, we can store frozen food outside in coolers.

    We’ve experienced cold weather power outages several times through the years. You can learn a lot about your preps. So I look at it as a trial by fire.

  • My family usually makes a big pot (or two) of soup and a casserole before a big storm. These are full meals that just need heating over a wood stove, camp stove, or even a candle to warm up and have a hot meal in total power failure. Definitely charge the packs and fill the tubs too!

  • Good advice on keeping the charcoal grill outside in a well ventilated area, but I’d avoid the deck if it’s wooden. Tip over a load of hot coals on a wood deck and you’ve got the makings of a good fire.

    Also, for the same Carbon Monoxide reasons, keep any gas powered generators outside. If you have the generator outside a window or door and the power cords keep you from closing said window or door, be sure to stuff the cracks with something to keep the exhaust fumes out.

  • Great article with many ideas to use for hurricane preparedness and aftermath. We’re expecting temps of 55 today, 30 tonight, same tomorrow. While this doesn’t sound bad at all, the Emergency Response team has seen fit to issue guidelines on how to dress humans and pets for outside. Really??
    I’m tired of ignorant, ‘the gov’t will take care of me’ people. It’s too bad common sense is not something that can be taught.

    • The problem isn’t that the government is telling people how to dress themselves. The problem is that in a lot of cases they need to. Some people are so stupid they would freeze without it. I remember being told when I was younger that Turkey’s would stand in the rain with their mouth open till they dround. Don’t know if it’s true but I do know a whole lot of people that I wonder who ties their shoes in the morning

  • RayK, hot coals on a wood deck. Can relate, almost had a fire, it was smoldering. A hose was near by and I soaked the place. Also trashed the Wallyworld grill with the foldable legs, cause thats how it tipped over. The legs folded in.

    I have a carbon monoxide detector for the generator. The manufacturer says to and $15.00 is a small price to pay for safety.

  • I would like to thank everyone for sharing their ideas or personal experiences.
    Very helpful and I hope others can learn by our example/experience.

    While the high today is forecasted for 11 (up one!), wind chill values have it down as low as -14. For those who are expected to get the snow and wind, please dress warmly, and keep skin covered. Best not to have to be outside at all, but somethings cannot be avoided. Livestock still need watered and fed, fire wood brought in.
    Stay safe everyone!

    Side note, if you are this storm, make notes of what worked, what did not work, what to plan for in future events.

  • Last year in East Tennessee, we had a Christmas snow storm that knocked out our power for four days. We were prepared but still learned a few lessons – 3-wick candles for light, paper plates and disposable utensils so we don’t have to waste water washing dishes (we have an electric well pump – no power=no water), and wine for warmth. We keep food stocked always and ate well. We live deep in the woods and get little light, even in the daytime, so the candles really helped. We start checking our winter stock in October. We have solar, but nothing was generated with 8″ of snow on the panels. We made a few minor purchases after that experience but did okay. We put in a radiant heat fireplace when we built our home, and we always have plenty of wood.

    • You might want to get some solar led lamps instead of candles. There like 25.00 for a 4 pack on Amazon and will last about 5-6 hours on a charge. Get a dozen and your good for a week

  • I’m in the Boston area and the storm is going on now. I didn’t have to do anything to prep for this storm because as a prepper who lives by routines and habits that work I was all set. I didn’ t have to deal with crazy crowds and long lines and empty shelves at the grocery store or anything like that. All I did was fill my car up with gas. That’s it. I invested in a whole-house generator that’s hooked up to my gas line a few years ago and that gives me a lot of peace of mind too.

  • Nah, just whine that no one told you a storm was predicted and place blame on someone else. Heaven forbid you watch local or national “liberal media” weather reports or be-still-my-heart, check your cell phone or call the xDOT of the state in which you’ll be traveling.
    I feel for the truckers since no Teamsters Union to stick up for them. I guess stay home warnings don’t apply to everyone.
    Extreme weather isn’t going away. Call it what you like – “cyclical”, “unprecedented”, or climate change. Get used to it.

    • Last time I checked NOAA was neither conservative nor liberal.

      Having lived through a major winter storm in the DC area, I have no faith and confidence in the VA DOT. The majority of people who live there are not used to those conditions, how to drive in them or with real winter tires. All season tires does not count.
      Resulting in a whole lot of auto accidents.
      Tow trucks were not equipped for those conditions either.
      Even in the best conditions, DC traffic can and is a nightmare, turning highways into parking lots for hours on end. Add bad weather and it is 10x worse with accidents, people ran out of gas, what few plows the VA DOT had, could not get through. Some people, if they could get to a exit ramp, turned around, went back to work and spent the night there.

      Fact is, regions not accustomed to extreme weather, do not budget for those events as they do not see the cost effectiveness of maintaining something like a snow plow fleet that might get used two or three times a year if that many.
      The government shares a degree of blame as do people.

      • States like Md,Va, NC, Tn better start preparing for weather. The weather is getting colder everywhere. 6” of snow in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday, fishsicles in Grecco bream lagoon farms, Turkey experiencing it coldest and snowiest winter ever.

        And to top it off, scientists studying Hunga-Tunga can’t wrap their brains around potential effects of ejecta being blasted 55+ km up into our stratosphere or even how much SO2 was launched by what is looking like a. VEI-6 eruption.

        Oh no, my friend, you are correct, states below the mason-Dixon don’t account for cold or snow. But they better start. And fellow OP’ers, I pray you all look at solid data out there becoming available. Even a seemingly insignificant drop in global temps by 1-1.5*C over the next couple years has the potential to compound our current food/supply issues dramatically. Brazil last year had the worst second corn crop in history, turning that great nation into a negative exporter. Brazil has always been the world’s lifeline with corn/beans.If that happens again, ouch! I shudder to imagine.

        Prep,prep,prep kids. Prep for cold like FMJ says, ‘cause next winter is going to be like Groundhog Day.

  • One prep I recommend is trying a power outage weekend before you really have to do one. Do it both in the summer and winter so you can see where the holes in your system are. I live in northern California mountains. We just had 9 days of no power and 4 ft of snow. We get power shut downs in the summer at times due to fire danger. These things don’t even bother us anymore as we have everything we need to get through them but that’s because we have lived it.

  • One thing I can’t emphasize enough is the value of fresh air. I’ve actually cracked a window to let in fresh air, then wrapped myself into a couple of more layers to stay warm. Stale air, even the exhaust of one’s own breathing, is a real downer.

    Many of other activities depend on the availability of fresh air. For example, I’ve cooked many a meal over a camp stove in a drafty old warehouse, where there was plenty of fresh air, but would I dare in a well insulated apartment? I’d dare cook over a charcoal fire in my garage—the door is far from airtight as well has a couple of vents larger than a typical wood stove’s flue—but how many garages have that much fresh air? Before any activity, consider how much fresh air can get in.

    If your dwelling is drafty enough for a gas stove, one thing I noticed that puts out a lot of heat, is to take a ceramic flower pot (the cheapest orange type works fine), put it upside down over a stove burner and then cook it. I was surprised at how much heat it puts out. Again, make sure there’s enough fresh air so that it burns cleanly.

      • Daisy, Maybe you (and some of your other authors and readers) ought to move to the Deep South. The coldest temp here so far this winter was 25 degrees ABOVE zero, and that’s only at night. AND we’re all RED states.

        • Scarlet,
          LOL!
          Yes, you do make a point.
          However, I was talking to a good friend of mine who lives in FL. They got some of the cold down their way. That morning his low was 32 degree, real feel of 27.
          And they had “Falling iguana,” warnings!
          That is something we dont see around here. :p

          • We have actually had some 20 degree nights this month in my part of Texas. We did get a dusting of snow a few weeks ago but we will be running for the air conditioning this summer. It is 68 degrees today. I’m headed out to prep some of my garden pots.

            Enjoyed the read. Thanks.

  • If you have problems with the outside spigot freezing, check out FREEZE MISER. I used it during last year’s Texas Snowmaggedon and it kept our outside faucets flowing (even the one that always freezes). And no, I’m not paid to advertise. FREEZE MISER doesn’t have a clue who I am. The product works, so I want to pass along the information.

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