Creating a Winter Emergency Survival Kit

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Are you prepared for winter weather? Learn how to build a thorough Winter Emergency Survival Kit to prepare for power outages in an emergency.

Are you prepared for winter weather? Learn how to build a thorough Winter Emergency Survival Kit to prepare for power outages in an emergency. #survivalkit #diysurvivalkit #preparednotscared #prepper #winterweather

Winter Emergency Survival Kit

Ever since we had Winter Storm Atlas, I felt like we weren’t prepared like I wanted us to be for winter. We did alright but not as well as I’d hoped and I definitely saw some areas for improvement.

The main area I wanted to improve on was just to simply build a much better winter emergency survival kit. We had some supplies before but since we moved our new place in an even more rural location, I was very concerned with our safety and what could happen if we were without power for a week or more.

Using what we’ve learned from the years past and what we learned from our most recent storm, I put together a brand new home winter survival kit for our family and I’m very happy with what’s in it.

Here’s a list of what is in our new kit:

Mr. Buddy Heater

My #1 concern was heating with our winter emergency survival kit. We ended up getting quite cold during the last storm and did not have backup heat. Our farmhouse has a pellet stove but even those take electricity to run. (For the pilot). We could run a generator or we could look for another option and that’s what we did. We ended up purchasing one of these Mr Buddy Portable Heaters and they will heat up to 200 square feet with propane. Of course, that won’t heat our whole house but that would make it very easy to heat a blocked off section. These are safe to use indoors and have oxygen sensors and tip over auto shut-offs. Don’t forget the propane hose if you end up getting one and wanted to hook it to a bigger tank (like a grill size tank) like we will do. You can connect these to those small propane tanks too. We’ve used this in our outdoor shop and inside once when we didn’t have any heat and it really is amazing. It heats up very quickly and is efficient.

Solar Lanterns

Lighting can be a pretty big deal as well. In the winter it gets dark so fast and on blizzarding days it’s often very dark all day long. I already had one of these d.Light Lanterns and I picked up another light from the same company, this Task Lantern for the tabletop. I still want to add at least one more of these to our winter survival kit. They do not need full sun power to charge (any light seems to do) and they last up to 8 hours.

I have a stockpile of unscented candles as well and we could always make Olive Oil Candles as well, these provide pretty good light. Enough to play card games in the dark with!

Winter Emergency Survival Kit

–I’ve recently added a few BioLite Solar Products to our kit as well.

Oil Lamps

I love the solar lanterns I talked about above for lighting that we can take anywhere but I also purchased a good oil lamp to have for a backup light source as well. I picked up this Blue Lantern because it was inexpensive and it’s well built. It’s also not huge so it’s easy to store. I picked up some extra lantern wick to have in our winter emergency survival kit as well. Now for oil, I wasn’t really looking forward to picking up regular petroleum based oil. I don’t really feel like it’s safe to burn indoors (and I think it’s kind of smelly!). I was very happy to find this non-petroleum, vegetable based Lantern Oil on Amazon. I’ll continue to stock up on more wick and oil as our budget allows.

Other Items in our Winter Emergency Survival Kit

Some other things in our home emergency kit for winter that I already had but are important to include here are:

That covers the basics: heat, food, light.

One other thing that I failed to think about last time was something special for our little guy. He didn’t really seem to notice that the power was out until dark and seemed a little scared when we only had flashlights. So I decided to put aside a few things for our home to have for these times. I bought these little finger puppets (I was thinking we could still put on some fun puppet shows with flashlights!). I also bought him his own little Solar Powered Flashlight, small enough for his hands. Nothing big, but a few small things I know I will be glad for when the time comes!

–Read more about Disaster Preparedness for Children.

The above is simply the additions for winter that we have added to our regular Emergency Preparedness Kit. Of course, I would still recommend having all the regular basics (flashlights, weather radio, first aid kit, etc). You can learn all about Weather Radios here…everyone should have one!

Another important thing to do is to put all of this together (the best you can) and know where it is! It’s not going to do you any good if you need a heat source in the middle of the night and you can’t remember where you put your Mr Buddy. For that reason, I also highly recommend putting a Mini Emergency Kit in each room of your house.

If you are preparing for winter, make sure to check out all of my Winter Weather Preparedness Tips!

Looking for more posts to prepare you for winter? Here are a few to read next:

What is in your winter emergency survival kit that I forgot to mention here? Do you have any of these things already?


This Winter Emergency Survival Kit was published on Little House Living in December 2013. It has been updated as of December 2019.

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  1. I think it would be a good idea to make sure we all have a fire extinguisher on hand with using candles and oil lamps!

  2. I found out the hard way too! I live in Illinois and lost power. The day time hours were ok, but when it got to be evening, it was really dark. I had a lantern and candles, and I was using my stove to heat the house ( I know this is not good), I went out and got a Mr. Buddy too, the one that holds 2 propane tanks, but what was really bugging me was that I was so bored sitting in the pitch black darkness. I had forgotten that even when my tv was on and I wasn’t watching it, there was still noise from it. Silence seemed to really bug me. So I invested in a solar radio and a battery tv for entertain me.

    1. In winter we try to keep audio books downloaded on our phones and tablets. I can play several hours of audio books on my kindle before the battery dies. We also set up a single solar panel and car battery with a little 12 volt inverter to recharge small devices like phone, tablets and a little bluetooth speaker, and run our satellite internet receiver and a single 12 volt light in the main room. Gives us plenty of entertainment and a connection to the outside world via internet. (No cell phone service here)
      None of it is necessary, of course, but being able to send a message in case of emergency, or listen to a good story that I don’t have to see to read can be a big plus, esp with kids. We usually do simple hand work crafts like spinning wool, drawing, etc while we listen. Anything you don’t have to see too well to do.
      We heat with wood and cook with propane already, so really with some water storage and a decent pantry stocked, we are fine.

  3. We found that lightsticks were good to have on hand. They light the bathroom for night trips, provide a nightlight in bedrooms and hallways and are fun for the kids to play with.

  4. iam on the defiance cert team and we do them things for all weather if we have to help out flamily or are own flamily thanks

  5. we keep a battery powered cd player with both music and funny cd’s. its very nice for bored kid times, and laughing as a family helps reduce stress in tough situations

  6. For our kids we got a wind up flashlight from Ikea a year or so ago. It works great and we don’t have to worry if they play with it and leave it on because all you have to do is crank it to make it work again. I will have to look into some of the other things that you have on this post 🙂 there are some good ideas. Thanks

  7. Living in Maine, you learn quickly what to have on hand when the power goes out. I have three oil lamps filled at all times, a couple of Sterno stoves and a Coleman stove to use outside if necessary, and a Mr Buddy heater. But this winter I also bought a couple of solar lights that really came in handy.

    16 LED Solar Power sound/motion Sensor Detector Outdoor Garden Path Wall Light. Bought three and placed them on a window ledge to ‘amp up’. It has a dim light at all times, and goes full power when it senses motion. It lasts all night, and would be great in a child’s bedroom. Found them on eBay.

    Also bought a 15,000 mAh Emergency Power Bank with Flashlight and 4 LED Battery Indicator. So instead of running out to the car to charge my iPhone, I can do it in the house.

    Ahhhh……winter in Maine. Don’t ya love it!!! LOL

  8. We’ve list power in summer windstorms for over a week and several days during ice storms as well. We are very rural w/propane heat and well water, so no peer means no water too. Any time it looks like we have a probability if an outage, we fill the tubs w water for flushing and washing up. We also have water for drinking/cooking stored away as well. Rain ponchos, extra socks/comfortable shoes, books, crayons, origami handbooks for entertainment as well as board games and car chargers for cell phone service. Peanut butter, canned tuna, other canned meats/goods are good to have on hand. ATMs were also w/out power- no cash available so having a small stash of cash is a good idea too.

  9. We lost power 4+ times over a few day period, including on Christmas Eve 🙁 One thing that’s not on your list that I would recommend is a power inverter! We used one hooked up to a car battery to light a lamp with an LED bulb that lit up our entire living/dining/kitchen area. It also ran our internet router so we could check the weather. We still need to get an emergency radio though.

  10. Merissa, I have a 3500w generator and a couple of heavy drop cord. Your central a/c, heat HVAC runs on 120v you can run it for an hour to heat house you need to find its breaker in electric panel and have hubby put a jumper on it. It will also run microwave for cooking. or TV,radios or battery charger, refrigerator. We live in the real midwest (KS) and are susceptable to ice storms. You can run two or three things sometimes IF they don’t draw to much power. Of course you put gen. out on the deck or porch and close the cords (carefully) in the door. IF you run it backwards through your electric panel BE SURE to flip main breaker so your not energizing the power companies lines.

    1. Thanks for the tips. We actually will have no central heat or air so I will only have to worry about keeping my food cool in the fridge and maybe powering our phones (although I want to get a different back up for that).

  11. I have been feeling the need to start putting together a survival kit – especially with all of the winter storms coming. However, my financial situation is extremely serious (I am disabled), so I have to buy only the very basics, and even then, only one at a time. What do you think are the absolute best and most necessary (and multi-purpose if possible) items that I could start with? I was thinking of a way to power (charge) my cell phone and other small electronics, a small indoor stove to heat food, and a way to stay warm. Thank you for any input you or your readers might have!

    Also, a quick suggestion to add to your list of items to keep handy… any medications that you or your family might be taking (I always keep 2 days worth in my purse just in case), a shovel (and one for the trunk of your car. Also, kitty litter (kept in the trunk of your car, and sprinkled under your tires) will help if your car is stuck.

    1. If you live in an area where it gets cold I would put a non-electric heater first on your list. When we’ve gone without power for days I’d have gladly eaten anything we had (that didn’t have to be heated) as long as I was warm.

  12. Don’t forget a Manuel can opener. We live in hurricane areas so this has become a vital part of our supplies. We also have a camping coffee pot that you put on the stove. Things like that are just good to have.

  13. Thanks! We are on the way to doing more of this. We had our electricity off for 2 days + this winter and it made us realize more what we needed to do! Following you on pinterest. Found you at Ahalogy.

  14. I am worried about our winter survival too. Didn’t have the budget this year but will for next. What I looked into and you have was the buddy heater but after I seen a couple of videos on them exploding. Think I will go with kerosene alternative. They have been around a lot longer and yes there are risks with it too. But you can cook on it too. And they don’t explode.

  15. I have all the items you talked about but I have added a very large first aid kit to the mix which houses all quick med needs! I have also set up areas like a wash dishes area using the girl scout way! Three wash bins, one with soap, one with clean water and the lady with a teaspoon added to the water! I have a area with paper plates cups napkins silverware all in a large zip lock! I have a quick bag for each person in the house with all those fun things in it!
    I have lost power for up to 12 days so we have to be ready for it all!

  16. If you are using a propane stove indoors, don’t forget to ventilate the room regularly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (or as suggested in this article, set up a sensor to detect the increased levels of this odourless and invisible gas). Anyway, good article, I always appreciate a handful of good tips!

  17. Great information! Thanks for sharing. We live in a rural area where the roads aren’t always great, so it’s good to know this stuff!

  18. Melissa, every time I turn around I’m bumping in to one of your blog posts online. LOL This is great! Thanks for the reminder that I need to get my winter prep together. I love the idea of the Lil Buddy! That’s where I’ve been most scared the last few years. Thank you for sharing that. Stay warm!

  19. For your generators, if you run out of gas and can’t get out; Disconnect the fuel filter on your vehicles, point hose into bucket, and turn the key on and off! Like you would to roll up a window or listen to the radio! Not start the car! Just make sure you leave enough gas to make it out when you can! Oh and hook the fuel filter back up! Lol!!

  20. As for the pellet stove, it is more the auger that feeds it than a pilot. They sell a kit for them that has a 12 volt motor that will run off of a car battery for a couple of days. The free-standing kerosene heaters work really well also, the round ones have a rack on top to allow you to cook or at least heat things on them.

  21. just a word of warning check you home insurance policies before you decide on a back up heat source. Ours specifies no kerosene heaters it would void my policy if I used one and something happened even if the heater wasn’t at fault.

    Love the list, I’d add extra blankets, pantyhose for everyone, Gravity water filter, and look into alternate ways to cook that use less energy like a wonder box cooker or rocket stove. Also plenty of extra charcoal or fuel for the grill. May not be the best to stand outside and man the grill in the snow but it’s better than cold soup.
    Also a way to cover and seal a broken window, storms run the risk of breaking a window in your home and you need to be able to quickly cover and seal it until you can have it repaired.

    Thanks for the great article!!!

  22. Mr.Buddy Heater is ONLY safe for indoor use with ventilation — specifically an open window or door,this still produces Carbon Monoxide!!!
    And please have a functioning Carbon Monoxide detector in any area you are burning a fueled system.
    I had a family member die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, please use safety! Thanks David

  23. Aside from candles mergency lamp is one important things everyone can use in case of emrgency when there is no electricity, put it in a place away from things that can burn easily to prevent a disaster.

  24. I wholeheartedly agree with the buddy heater. We have the big buddy and it helped tremendously to keep our power bill down when we lived in an old poorly insulated mobile home. Power outage supplies are a MUST for any household.

  25. Thanks, we have a propane insert fireplace. Maybe I will look into extra air mattresses so we can all sleep downstairs. We have carbon monoxide detector.

  26. These essentials really help during winter… I’ll keep it in mind and collect these essentials before the winter season.