I am not trying to offend anyone or represent myself as an expert. I know there are many preppers on this forum that will see none of what I am writing here as new. However, some people may need this information or have not thought of it. As for me a lot of this was learned over 13 years in the active Army and seven years as a policeman. I was placed working and living in some of the most inhospitable weather situations someone could find themselves in. Enough of my ranting and I will get to the point.
As I was finishing my final preparing for winter and watching the news about the storm hitting the plains states I realized that I should call my family to make sure they were ready for bad weather. This caused me to get a migraine real quick. Then I thought that I should put this all in writing so I could send it to them every winter and make my life easier. With that I figured why not share this information to everyone who reads this forum.
The first thing you should consider is weatherproofing your winter gear and camping gear just in case you actually need it. For my Goretex jackets (Yes even Goretex gets soaked thru eventually) and my canvas work jackets I waterproof them using Camp Dry (you can use any commercial waterproofing spray but I prefer this one). I recommend doing this outside if possible due to the fumes or in a well-ventilated area. It can also contaminate the area where you are working, due to silicone overspray. Also test the fabric of what you are about to weatherproof to make sure it doesn’t stain or ruin it. If you decided to use this product or others inside put something on the floor under the work area to protect it from staining.
For Bivvy Sacks for sleeping bags also use a product like Camp Dry to keep your sleeping bag dry. Also use a seam sealing product to make sure the seams are extra protected. You don’t want water just pouring in at the material seem and causing you to get soaked. Now I know they say the seams are already sealed, but do you trust them with your warmth and safety?
Now on to the topic of weatherproofing your boots. If they are leather boots use a product like Snow Seal and liberally coat the boots and then put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour (yes I said oven, by doing this you open the pores of the leather and allow it to absorb the Snow Seal. If your boots are made of something other than leather, then use Camp Dry, of course test the boots first to make sure it doesn’t ruin them. Wet feet can make you miserable real quick along with being a deciding factor in if you survive or not. Now to socks, cotton socks are evil! They will cause you to lose toes or worse. The reason for this is cotton doesn’t wick moisture away from the skin very well, but it is great at wicking away the heat from your feet causing your feet to stay cold and end up freezing. So get wool socks or advanced fabric socks as they are the best choice. They wick moisture away from the skin and will still keep your feet warm even when wet. Always remember warm feet are happy feet and will help you survive.
Now your vehicle as you will most likely depend on this greatly in bad weather. Make sure your headlights are working properly and are bright after a few years they start to get dim and should be replaced. Also if you have the type of headlights that have a clear plastic cover you will probably notice that they are milky white. You need to fix this with a commercially available headlight polishing kit and follow the directions. I found one at a local auto parts store for fewer than thirty dollars. It made my headlights like new.
Windshield wipers should be in good working order and of a good quality that won’t clog with ice and stop working properly. If they are bad replace them before you need them. Not seeing and driving are not a good combination, with that also make sure that you have a winter grade windshield wash as if it freezes up then it won’t help you.
Next is your battery and alternator, the two things that almost always fail when bad weather hits. Go to an auto parts store and have them put the tester on them to make sure they are okay. This will go a long way in easing worries about your vehicle not starting when you need it most.
As for vehicle maintenance not only does your oil need to be changed regularly but so does your antifreeze, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, differential and transfer case oil if you have them. With these an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Now to your emergency kit for the car, in this should be a minimum of jumper cables (not everyone has them, but every care has a battery so if you have them you can get a jump), a set of work gloves (for changing tires and such) a knit cap or some other winter headgear, warm gloves, blanket’s, a few common tools (to tighten battery cables and such), emergency markers (I prefer flares and strobe lights over reflectors, as reflectors require headlights to hit them to be seen). Also having a days’ worth of food and water in the vehicle is nice in case you get stranded in your car. You can get emergency food rations and water from most survival or prepping web sites. Having sand for traction and a compact shovel to dig out is a must also. You can also make traction ramps buy cutting heavy grate material about the width of 1 ½ the size of your tires and 3 feet long. Using this can also help you or someone else get unstuck in snow. Tire chains or snow tires are a must and if your tread is getting to the point of being only ¼ an inch deep get new tires. I know this seems a lot for your vehicle but when the worst case scenario that you never thought would happen to you does happen you will be better off for it. I know there is more for this topic but this is a good start. I also add my bug-out kit to my vehicle every time I get in it to drive. Also my bug-out kit and vehicle kit are one and the same. It makes it larger and heavier, but then I am never in the situation of saying why did I leave that at home
Now for the house besides back-up heating, food, water, lighting and the normal prepping stuff for bugging in there are a few items to consider. On backup heating you have to be careful due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I use the Mr. Heater MH18B Portable “Big Buddy” Heater by Mr. Heater as it has an automatic low oxygen shutoff system and tip-over safety shutoff. If you don’t have something that senses when the oxygen is low or is made for indoor use then you need to have someone stay up preferably in shifts to watch the heater along with making sure there is enough ventilation in the room so there is not a build-up of Carbon Monoxide. This also goes for daytime heating and also for cooking. For lighting using low sulfur mineral instead of lamp oil in your oil lamps as it is cleaner and safer. Also it will keep you from having to repaint your house when everything is back to normal. This also goes for candles they will stain the pain in a house along with being a fire hazard. This is since we don’t run around using candles every day we will make mistakes that can and will be tragic. On that note with heating, cooking, and lighting you should have a couple a house-sized ABC fire extinguishers for emergencies.
You need one or two heavy tarps, parachute cord, and small sandbags so that you can put a temporary patch on your roof should a tree fall due to ice and snow and uses your house as a target. For windows having 2 inch wood screws, sheet plastic, and a couple of sheets of plywood to close up a broken window or door is a lifesaver. Also if you can precut the plywood for the windows it makes the repair a lot quicker.
A note on shoving snow, shoveling snow is considered heavy strenuous labor. It is also one of the leading causes of heart attacks in winter. So like any heavy workout take 15 minutes to warm up so your body realizes you are about to do something difficult. While working on removing the snow take many breaks. I normally only shovel snow for 15 minutes at a time then take a break so my heart rate can go back down. Also it may be cold but stay hydrated.
I hope everyone has a great winter, and hope that at least some of this information is helpful.