Are you ready for winter yet? These winter weather preparedness tips can help you begin preparing for winter at any time. Don’t be caught in the cold!
Winter Weather Preparedness Tips
Yes, it’s definitely that time of year. It’s cold at night and I’m really in the fall cleaning mood. (Does anyone else feel that way just from feeling the fall wind blowing? Maybe I’m crazy and it’s just me….) It’s time to start getting the house ready for those winter storms. I know not all of my readers live in an area that gets winter storms but up here in the North we have to be prepared or we will spend all winter cold and counting the minutes until summer comes.
There are several winter weather preparedness tips that you can do to get your homestead livable for those below zero temps and cold winter winds and now is the time to start doing them before the weather hits! Make sure to share some of your best tips in the comments section so we can all be prepared.
Winters here in South Dakota can be downright nasty. Some winters we will hardly get a thing, other winters we will be stuck at 30 below zero for weeks on end. Once we were snowed in for almost 2 weeks, and we’ve even lived through mega-storms like Mega Storm Atlas. Here’s a winter preparedness checklist for what we are doing to prepare for this winter and what we do to prepare for every winter that might help you get your house ready for the coming season.
Make sure all areas around the doors are sealed.
We’ve lived in some crazy houses over the years. Our first little house was a foreclosure and the doors were not in good condition. At the time we lived in the house we couldn’t afford to buy new doors so we did the next best thing which was to make sure the areas around the doors are sealed.
You can buy some inexpensive foam door tape and place it around any doors without a proper fit or seal. It’s amazing what $5 can do! Before we learned of this simple trick we had snow actually coming in our doors of that first house. Afterward, we couldn’t even feel the slightest draft.
Seal the windows and anything else.
You can buy the plastic window film for very little this time of year. Watch the sale ads and try to pick it up for around $1 or less. These will help with the drafts coming in around poorly sealed window frames. Being in an old farmhouse I will at least be doing this for many of my north facing windows. As long as you have it applied appropriately it does work.
“Great Stuff” can be a good sealant around the windows, just don’t go too overboard when applying it.
Consider any other place that cold air might be coming into your home, even places that you might not think of at first! We discovered after taking off the outlet covers to replace them that cold air just blows right in the outlet holes. There is foam outlet insulation that you can easily place right underneath the plastic cover that will block the air from getting in.
Consider your heat source.
Look into getting a wood or pellet stove if you haven’t already. If something happens to your power you don’t want to be left without a heat source. Make sure to check for rebates that can be available on many stoves and make sure to shop around before you buy to find the best deal.
You may also want to look into a generator that could power a heat source for a short time or to power something else that you may need. We invested in a propane powered generator so that we can easily keep propane on hand to refuel it when needed. Our farmstead is also already wired for a generator so if we ever needed to, we could power anything with the generator. If you aren’t sure that your home is set up to be connected to a generator, call your current power provider to find out.
Have your pantry prepared.
Before winter comes, I start thinking about things that we can eat that don’t need to be cooked. I like to stock up on granola bars, crackers, that kind of thing. We also have sterno cans in the pantry to cook with heat if we need it.
I also stockpile different meds like Tylenol and also first aid stuff. We always either have some extra beauty products (shampoo, soap, etc) on hand or we have the supplies to make them.
Dog food, cat food, and chicken feed is another thing you will want to consider stockpiling.
I also like to keep a big stockpile of batteries on hand. We have a bunch of flashlights around that house and I also stockpile candles and lighters and matches.
—Making a Winter Emergency Kit is also a good idea.
Don’t forget to stockpile water as well! A basic rule of thumb is to stock one gallon of water per person per day and to have at least three days of water on hand. If you space to do more than this, great!
Insulate your water pipes.
If your water pipes are accessible it’s a good idea to insulate them. This way you can be less concerned about them freezing and it will also take less time and energy for your water to heat up and get to the source when it’s cold outside. Pipe insulation only costs a few dollars and it will be well worth the small investment. Look for it at your local hardware stores and lumber yards.
Prepare your animals.
Winter preparedness is not just about preparing the house for winter, if you have outdoor animals it’s a good idea to have a winter plan for them as well! Like I talked about in the Stockpiling for Winter article, it’s a good idea to have extra pet food on hand in case you can’t get to town. You should also have a warm place for the animal to be out of the elements, no matter if they are a dog or if they are a cow. It doesn’t need to be something that you spend a lot of money on…one year we insulated our chicken coop with empty feed bags! As we learned during Mega Storm Atlas, it’s also important to make sure the animals can move in and out of their shelters and make sure they have their food and water nearby. Never leave your home in the middle of a blizzard to check on your animals.
Make a winter garden.
Like last year, I’m going to have a winter garden in the house (a bigger one this year!) so we can have some fresh produce without having to go to the store. This isn’t necessarily a “preparedness” tip but it’s something that makes your winter much more pleasant! There is just something about seeing those leafy greens on a cold snowy day….
If it’s not quite winter yet in your area, take the time to clean up your garden. Let your veggies grow as long as you are able to and when you are certain frost is imminent, pull out whatever you can. Pull out entire tomato plants and hang them upside down in a garage or shed so the remaining tomatoes can ripen on the vine. Pick squash/carrots/beans/anything even if it’s small, it’s still edible! You put the hard work into growing your garden all summer so be sure and make the most of it.
Put important things in one easy to get to spot.
Put things like flashlights and batteries (if it needs them-we use the crank ones) together in one easy to get to location. We also have a weather radio which I would recommend everyone have. We don’t have a tv and if the power was out we could still use our radio.
Also, make sure your family knows where your fire extinguishers are and how to turn off the water if a pipe was to burst. I talk about how to create and why you should have a mini emergency kit in my article about making a Winter Emergency Survival Kit.
Make sure your cars are ready.
Get the oil changed. Put in anti-ice windshield washer fluid. Check and replace the windshield wiper blades if they need it. If you have a 4×4, make sure the 4 wheel drive is working properly. Make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your car. (Something similar to this mini emergency kit.) Also, make sure you have blankets and a change of clothes.
Check up on the medicine cabinet.
I want to make sure I have enough medicines for certain situations in case I can’t get out of the house. Also, if you have a baby you should stock up on the essentials, diapers, wipes, meds, etc.
—Want to read about a real life winter experience that taught us to be prepared? Here’s our story about What Mega Storm Atlas Taught Us About Preparedness.
Don’t forget the fun stuff!
No one wants to feel bored and trapped all winter! Pick up some new board games or other fun things that you can pull out for your family when everyone is starting to get cabin fever.
—If you need more ideas for cabin fever, check out my post on How to Get Through a Long Winter.
I hope these winter preparedness tips help you get prepared for winter, or they will at least put you in that getting-ready mode. We personally know what it’s like to be snowed in a very cold house for several days, without being able to get to town. It’s not fun, but it makes your life easier when you’ve already prepared for the situation.
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Want to learn more about Prepping? Check out these posts:
Check out all the Homestead Living and Prepping ideas on Little House Living!
Any other ideas, or what do you do to get ready for winter?
These Winter Weather Preparedness Tips and Printable originally appeared on Little House Living in October 2010. It has been updated as of October 2019.