Winter Weather Preparedness Tips and Free Printable Checklist

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Are you ready for winter weather? These winter weather preparedness tips can help you begin preparing for winter at any time. Don’t be caught in the cold!

Are you ready for winter? Here are some easy winter weather preparedness tips that anyone can use. Plus a free printable checklist! #preparedness #prepping #winter #winterweather #preparingforwinter #preppingyourhouse

Winter Weather Preparedness Tips

Yes, it’s 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 two 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 prepare your house 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 were sealed.

You can buy inexpensive foam door tape and use it to weather-strip doors without a proper fit or seal. It’s amazing what $5 can do! Before we learned of this simple trick, we had snow coming in the 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 to use to cover windows. 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, don’t go too overboard when applying it. If you can afford it, try and replace windows with storm windows as money allows.

Consider any other place where cold air might be coming into your home, even places you might not initially think of! After removing the outlet covers to replace them, we discovered that cold air 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.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Sources

Always check for any leaks in your gas lines if you are suspicious. (You can have the gas company do this for you or buy the bubbling spray.) Also use the time before winter starts to change the batteries or check your carbon monoxide dectors to make sure they are working. Carbon monoxide poisoning is no joke. If you are in a home that uses gas or propane and you start to feel drowsiness, disorientation, or memory loss, call 911 immediately.

If you are currently dealing with a storm, ensure all exhaust pipe (dryers, stoves, etc) areas are clear of snow and ice before you use any of the appliances they belong to.

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. (Note, pellet stoves still take some electricity. For total off-grid, use wood or gas.)

You may also want to look into a generator that could power a heat source quickly or power something else you may need. We invested in a propane powered generator to 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 your home is set up to be connected to a generator, call your current power provider to find out.

Bulk Foods in the Pantry

Have your pantry prepared.

Before winter, I start thinking about things we can eat that don’t need to be cooked. I like to stock up on granola bars, crackers, etc. We also have sterno cans in the pantry to cook with heat if needed.

I also stockpile different medication like Tylenol and also first aid supplies that go beyond the first aid kit. We always either have some extra beauty products (shampoo, soap, etc.) on hand or we have the supplies to make them. We also have plenty of all necessary medications and try and pick up more whenever we go to town.

You will want to consider stockpiling dog food, cat food, and chicken feed.

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, 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 daily and have at least three days of water on hand. If you space to do more than this, great!

Read more on Stockpiling.

Insulate your water pipes

If your water pipes are accessible, insulating them is a good idea. 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 will be well worth the small investment. Look for it at your local hardware stores and lumber yards.

You should also keep a space heater on hand if your pipes freeze. This way you can thaw them out as long as you have the electricity.


Have the Right Clothing

It’s important to have the right kind of protective clothing on hand for winter weather. You don’t always need to look cute but you do always need to stay warm! Here are some tips on Winter Clothing for Children.

Everyone in your home should have heavy gloves or mittens, a heavy coat, a hat, a scarf, and snow boots. Daily winter clothing should be sweaters and warm pants.

If you plan on shoveling or moving heavy snow, be sure to have some brightly colored cloth on the outer garments of your clothing for visibility. You should also wear several layers of loose fitting clothing for being outside to remove any layers of wet clothing as needed.

Know the Difference in Watches and Warnings

If you are going to live in winter weather, you need to be aware of what each of the different winter weather advisories means to be better prepared for winter weather conditions.

A Winter Storm Watch means that conditions are favorable for a winter storm in the coming days, but it hasn’t happened yet. This means it’s time to start preparing your home and family.

A Winter Storm Warning means that conditions are imminent or are occurring for a winter storm. This could mean heavy snow, wind, and unsafe driving conditions. By this time, you should be prepared and shouldn’t be traveling.

A Blizzard Warning means that winds have reached at least 35 mph and visibility is less than 1/4 mile because of driving snow. You should always stay safe at home if you are under a blizzard warning.

A Wind Chill Warning doesn’t always mean it’s snowing but it means that it’s very cold outside. During a wind chill warning, temperatures can reach low enough to cause frostbite in minutes.

Listen to your local media, NOAA weather radio, local radio, to receive the up-to-date warnings and weather forecast for your area.


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! As 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, whether they are a dog or a cow. It doesn’t need to be something 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. Your pets should be somewhere that you can get to them if you need to check on them. Stay safe.

Always Keep Fuel Levels Up

In the winter, you should get into the practice of keeping fuel levels up or full. This could mean keeping your gas tank full or filling up with gasoline each time you go to town. If you end up stranded, you will want a full tank to get you through until emergency personnel can find you.

It could also mean keeping your propane tank full so that your grills, fireplaces, stove, and other heating and cooking devices always have enough fuel to get you through a storm.

Make a winter garden.

This isn’t necessarily a “preparedness” tip but it’s something that makes your winter much more pleasant! 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. 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 can, and pull out whatever you can when you are certain frost is imminent. 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.

Winter Emergency Survival Kit

Put Important Things Together in One Area

Put things like flashlights and extra batteries (if it needs them, we use the crank ones) together in one easy to get to the 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. Complete any repairs on your vehicle before winter. And if possible, have good winter tires with adequate tread installed.

You may also want to carry sand in your car to help get traction should you get stuck on ice or slick snow while driving.

Make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your car. (Something similar to this mini emergency kit.) Also, make sure you have blankets, a change of clothes, a snow shovel, and a good windshield scraper.

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.

Winter Weather PReparedness Tips

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 you can pull out for your family when everyone starts 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 tips help you prepare for winter, or they will at least put you in that getting-ready mode. We know what it’s like to be snowed in a very cold house for several days, without getting to town. It’s not fun, but it makes your life easier when you’ve already prepared for the situation.

Want to print off this list and make a handy checklist to use? Newsletter subscribers can grab the checklist for free! Just enter your email below to have it sent right to your inbox.

More On Prepping

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?

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Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

These Winter Weather Preparedness Tips and Printable originally appeared on Little House Living in October 2010. It has been updated as of February 2023.

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  1. We are getting ready to buy half a cow and half a pig this month. We did it for the first time last year and it saved us so much money! It worked out to a little over a $1/lb and we had enough meat for the whole year until now that it's harvest time again =)

    Also, get the snowblower ready.. You never know when the day will come and realize you forgot to get oil or gas!

  2. Boy this article makes me glad I live in the south!! We do get the occasional ice and snow but I lived in Iowa until I was 9 and I remember!

  3. Oh, you are a blogger after my own heart! I found you on Pinterest. I have always LOVED and respected the Little House books and the widsom in them. I’ve even written a blog about it. And I continually ask myself, “What would Ma do?” I am so excited to find your blog, and I appreciate the old-fashioned wisdom applied to today.

  4. I love these articles…now that we live where it snows in the winter this really helps me think about prepping now.

  5. I am stocking my freezer and pantry. Also trying to get all of the children’s clothing and finish all Christmas/birthday shopping so that we can stay in and have a cozy Christmas.

  6. Fixed the roof on the barn. Filled barn with feed, getting vehicles ready (antifreeze and battery checks), filling basement with food and doing some cleaning. Yes that was all today (with hubbies help of course!).

  7. All the garden produce is picked and today was the first day we lit the pellet stove. So cozy!

  8. Have kerosene lamps and oil on hand. Candles too.

    I love your website. I have read the books several times and I got my husband to read Farmer Boy just recently.

  9. ima bubble wrap my windows!!!!!!! ha ha ha sounds funny but i saw a post on it and ima do it line my windows and then it keeps the cold out

  10. We put up a lot of food for the winter. Today I started taking the garden down and tucking it in for the season. I planted kale, carrots and parsnips, all which should survive even the New Hampshire winter (they’ll be covered in clear plastic). My beets are in the same raised bed, too. The cucumber plants are all taken down, etc etc. Tomorrow it’s the last (I hope!) mowing of the year, raking up the leaves and putting them into the compost bins.

  11. Sounds like a really good idea!! We don’t have a realistic chance of being snowed in, but we do get cold days when it is nice not to have to go out. Time to get in the non perishable stockpile and the medications too x

  12. Love the article, we do much of the same, even here on the Gulf Coast. And we all know…. you can never have enough cats!! 😉 <3

  13. 🙂 Last weekend I did a deep clean of the house. Had the doors and windows open to air it out. Today was the start of cool weather for us here ,so I just finished picking the last of the green tomatoes, and getting things picked up a bit outside. I’ve been trying to stock up here and there , as the budget allows.

  14. Winter is not a big deal here on the east cost. Instead we are stocking up for a hurricane something I never though I would need to do when I moved from CT to PA. I am trying to figure out where the camp stove, fluid and candles got stashed with the move. My biggest worry is how to keep the fish warm and filter running if we lose power 🙂

    1. when my family were young, I use to use powder sugar (that I would process on high in my blender). works really well. You can make your own icing for cup cakes, or any kind of cakes , or anything that needs frosting or icing.

  15. I thought I was the only one who did ‘Fall Cleaning’!! My husband says it’s ‘Nesting’, as I seem to take inventory and add to our stockpile, I wash the quilts that we put out on the sofas for snuggling, and I make sure there is plenty of drinking water and OTC medications because, as most moms know, your kids always get sick in the middle of the night!!

  16. I am also stocking freeze dried foods that you don’t need to cook also. That way even if I am unable to get fresh produce, I can still have produce that retains 98% of it’s nutritional value and won’t spoil in my fridge. It can last up to 25 years on the shelf and most last 1-2 years once open. Huge benefit of not throwing your food away because of spoilage.
    I have also been canning things from my garden. I am on canning overload and can’t wait for Winter in order to enjoy the “fruits of my labor”.

    1. Thrive Life’s products are non-GMO, no preservatives, additives, or MSG and they also have an organic line that continues to expand. They are the only company that I have found that can say that!

  17. I live in New England and at this point we are pretty much ready for winter. We have wood and pellets for both of our stoves, canned and froze our vegies from the garden. Generators ready along with the tractor,snow blower. Just have to take the AC’s out of the windows. We live in the sticks so we always have food, water, critter food etc. If we lose power it will be for a while. I have oil lamps for every room in my house. I learned from all the power outages we have had. Some for an extended period. We just need to fill the wood boxes inside, then winter can start when ever it wants. Lol Mornings have been cool here so we have had a fire in the pellet stove already also.

    1. I was raised in Massachusetts — now living in Pennsylvania. Where in New England do you live? I guess I forgot that the cold temperatures arrive in October. We’ve had a bit of a return summer here for the past two weeks. When the cold hits we are really going to feel it. I’d better get busy.

  18. We buy the freeze dried good that back packers use. We have a little propane cooker and if we lose power we have used them in the past. You can buy them online or at places like Bass Pro Shops. They are high on protein and you can get them with 2 to 6 servings and more! Lots of choices!

  19. If I may add a suggestion to your list, heat source and whatever maintenance be on the list. (As I think about my disabled and empty tank!) Also, as I sit here thinking about my next step, (garden was finished today as well as fall planting), I think I had better get the maintenance done on the atv to push snow and get all the other small engines ready for over-wintering. Good luck with the snow!

  20. There is a clay/caulk type product (consistency of silly putty but in a long strip) You press it into the cracks, and it pulls right out come Spring. Easier to remove than the foam at the end of the season. But that foam is great for holes and gaps you want kept sealed!

  21. I wish I had a wood stove! We live in a mobile home and I don’t have a place to put one though hubs and I are discussing trying to rearrange and put one in for next year. Our homeowners insurance forbids kerosene heaters and I don’t think a generator will be enough so I have been scouring for back up heat source ideas. We have lighting mostly taken care of I just need to grab a few more cans of camp fuel for the lanterns but we have plenty of battery powered and solar lights as well. Lots of food as I keep a minimum 3 month working pantry with some staples in a 6mo to 1yr supply. (Don’t ask where I stash it all lol its a challenge). Snow removal is already taken care if my hubs plows as a side job so he can get our driveway no problem. I do need some more ice melt for the steps and some good washer fluid for the car but otherwise I think we are pretty well set. Now if my boys would stop loosing their gloves I’d be happy 🙂

  22. Word of warning about pet food, shop in a store that has a good turn over. There is an expiry date on pet food. If I see a long expiry date on a bag I might buy more for the stockpile. I also buy smaller bags since my dog seems to eat less after he lays down his fur. The bag seems to smell stale if left open (in the bin) too long.

  23. Having a wood stove and kerosene lanterns with some extra kerosene on hand has helped us to gt through power outages while staying warm. We also keep cards, dice and board games on hand to pass the time.

  24. By here it will start summer begining in Dicember but, many issues you gave
    for Winter would be usefull as well as for summer as to make sure the pantry
    were full of marmelades and crakers, sciropes and fruits juices either,

    Also to protect from the hot waves we may seal the Windows by the day,

    Thank you
    warm Greetings from the south, Argentina

  25. Are there things you can recommend to those who are renters? Son had to put heavy blanket over his window, lots of blankets on bed, & wear warm PJs while sleeping, since window wasn’t sealed properly, so cold air came into his room. During day, he didn’t hang around his room. Landlord never would do anything that he & his roommates asked to be done. I did use plastic cover kit for windows when I was renter. My Dad use to put more insulation in every home we owned, & in our SD house he put insulation in basement walls. (I noticed Canadian HGTV shows in their homes that they do that for their basement walls- my Dad was ahead of times, since he did that in early 1970s). Another house he put more insulation & installed storm windows & utility bills were so low next month that utility companies put new meters thinking that they weren’t working. Even if you’ve insulation in your home, check to see if R-valve is still same, since thru the yrs it settles.

  26. We had a wood stove for twenty years, recently switched to propane. We might get a propane generator for a few things around the house. I will work on food and water prep for our family of five. This year, I bought discount Blizzard Fleece so that I can make inexpensive blankets for everyone in the family. I am also planning on sewing some warm pajamas from discount flannel. I will have to think about auto prep too.

    1. Those sound like some great prepping plans! We have a propane generator and love it! It’s so much easier for us to keep propane tanks on hand versus gas.

  27. When the temps get below freezing, we keep a lamp on in our laundry room where our water pipes come in…with an ‘old fashioned’ incandescent light bulb to generate a bit of heat. Put sheets and/or blankets over the windows…cuts down on sunlight in some areas. but we make them easy to put up and down over easy access windows…We have a natural gas furnace, but supplement with kerosene, and also have alternative propane heaters. I would love to have a wood stove but since we rent, that is not an option.

  28. Until I read this post I did not realize you were in South Dakota!!! We were on vacation and went through the state a couple of weeks ago. It was an adventure! We wound up in Yellowstone on kinda of a fluke. It was 92 degrees when we left home and had snow and 24 degree temps in Yellowstone!
    The whole way I tried to imagine families in covered wagons. I now have even more appreciation for “the Little House” stories and how hardy people were.
    Will work on more preparedness even if our winters aren’t as bad as yours!!

  29. Here’s a tip from some ‘mature’ farmers in my area (notice I did NOT say ‘old’ LOL!!) – pick green or partly ripe tomatoes & wrap them in old newspaper. Gently lay them in something….plastic tub, large bucket, etc…in layers & store in a cool place. (Basement, barn, etc) Yes, a few will disappoint you & go bad but almost all will ripen just fine. Enjoy!!

  30. I’m working on a quilt by hand, that I started making, several years ago. If that’s not enough to keep me busy, I’ve found some quilt squares that I had started on, years ago to make a 18″ pillow. So I know what I’ll be doing this Winter. I’m enjoying the quilting process.

  31. This Winter have to make sure to keep the propane tanks fuel for backup heat. We have our blizzard fleece blankets. We spent the last three months painting the siding exterior of our house, so we are late for Winter prep. Thanks for the tips. I will try to address some of them.

    Yuk! Some big and medium-sized spiders have been coming in the house lately. It gets worse, when they want to come in and get warm. Today, I moved grass away from the foundation and sprayed Spider Not spray. Many baby spiders were present, around the foundation, as this was a very wet Summer and Fall. I am so glad I got them before they grew big and come visit us inside the house this Winter!

    1. Uggg, we’ve had the spiders in this house too. I’ve tried to do what I can but we currently have all the interior trim torn off to replace it so they are coming in all over. You’d think they’d have frozen already with our nights in the 20’s but I guess not!

  32. Great article. I always watch the weather out your way because it heads our way (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) a few days later. We were minus 35 this morning with a minus 45 degree wind chill warning:) When I was walking back from the barn I did notice the trees are getting their buds. I love all four seasons…each one makes you appreciate the other. Stay warm:)

  33. Thank you for the tips. One habit I got into was when I finished off a jar of anything, after cleaning the jar and used led, I filled it back up with water and stored it in my pantry. It helps with a little more water storage. Evelyn