Backpackers.com — There are few worse scenarios than being unprepared for an emergency in winter. In the backcountry, survival is paramount, and in winter you’ll need to make sure your pack is loaded with disaster-aversion tools. But that’s just as true for your house, workplace, or vehicle.
The reality is that survival is possible and potentially necessary anywhere. We have a guest post on this very topic by Lee Flynn, a freelance writer who trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy living, food storage techniques, and self reliance. This is a combination of all of those, and an insightful look at how to be prepared for that serious winter storm.
How to Create a Winter Weather Emergency Kit
by Lee Flynn
Having the right supplies on hand are of critical importance when caught in a snowstorm. Emergency supplies and cold-weather disaster kits often make a lifesaving difference during extreme weather conditions, so preparing one is prudent, especially if you live in a weather prone area (like, say, anywhere East or North of California).
Stocking your home, workplace, or vehicle with emergency food supplies, extra blankets, and other items like first aid kits and backup batteries is the first step. These ensure that even the worst winter storms can be survived in greater safety and comfort. When it comes to stocking an emergency kit, early preparation and having a list of basic items and supplies can be key. The National Weather Service provides a great, comprehensive list of supplies, which we’ll get into below.
Obtaining Emergency Supplies for the Home
While failing to acquire basic supplies can make weathering even a mild winter storm at home less than comfortable, more serious storms can pose a real issue for even well-stocked homeowners. Severe winter storms can result in road closures and power outages that can last for days at a time, so obtaining enough winter weather supplies and resources for the entire household is never a concern to take lightly.
Start with heat: Gas-powered generators, firewood and extra blankets (of the fleece and space variety) will become essential resources for those faced with a lengthy power outage and dropping temps. Next up you need to make sure you have light, or those nights will be too long. Simply buy a supersize pack of AA or AAA batteries (whichever works in your lantern, headlamp, etc.), and keep them in well-protected storage for emergency use. Make sure candles and lighters (or matches) are on hand as well.
Last are the bodily functions. Stock up on extra food and water, with specific survival rations pre-designated. Also make sure you have any necessary medications. This is a huge category that can be life-threatening quickly, especially if you have a condition that requires prescription refills.
Storing all of this together is advised, so when the power cuts and you’ve got days of waiting ahead, you can pull it all out and get to surviving.
Creating an Emergency Kit for the Workplace
The home and workplace are not that different when it comes to survival. If you’re stuck at home, you could just as likely be stuck in the office. So storing basic disaster supplies (found in this easy checklist from Ready) is a good idea. And check with your boss or facility manager, because they might have already designated emergency supplies. Being knowledgable of your surroundings is important, and at the workplace there may be many more people stuck than at home.
Access to automotive supplies, such as jumper cables, road flares and pet litter — which can be used to free stuck vehicles — all allow professionals to avoid spending the night at the office. But, if you do need to spend the night at work, making sure there are spare blankets and heat insulation is just as key as at home.
Likewise, stock up on non-perishable food, extra water, and extra batteries to keep electronic devices operational. Storing a charged USB battery pack will help at least one phone keep charge, which can be used to reach out in emergencies. And, like in the home, emergency medical supplies, first-aid equipment, and medications can also make a lifesaving difference when snowed in at the office.
Roadside Emergency Kits
While getting trapped at home or snowed-in at the office can be a real inconvenience, being stranded in a vehicle during a severe snowstorm might quickly become a true emergency. In addition to extra food and water, a well-stocked road-side kit should contain some way to stay warm, as well as the means to call for help.
Motorists who find themselves trapped in car without basic supplies are far more likely to risk life and limb should they be forced to abandon their vehicle in order to find shelter or go for help. Road flares, spare batteries for a portable radio, or an extra charge for a mobile phone are never items that should go overlooked when creating a roadside disaster kit or preparing for the winter season.
You can purchase a decent roadside emergency kit for about $30, or you can construct your own.
Even Low-Cost Emergency Kits Can Make a Big Difference
The total cost of preparing for an emergency or disaster kit is a common obstacle. Sometimes you can’t justify the cost. But, in reality, this creates a serious problem down the road, when you’re faced with a real emergency. There’s a middle road — low-cost or self-prepared emergency kits are fairly easy, and will save you some money.
Here are a few money saving tips:
- Use (and save) old blankets to stock an emergency kit rather than purchasing new ones.
- Use a food storage set to ensure supplies can be kept as long as possible.
- Hang on to an old cellphone (with compatible SIM) or spare radio, or grab one at a yard sale.
- Shop around to find the best price on a first-aid kit.
You can create emergency kits for each scenario without breaking the bank, and you’ll be much more prepared when the time comes to use them, because you’ll have a hands-on history with each item.
Avoiding Unnecessary Risks and Identifying Dangerous Situations
The last part of this is being smart during the emergency. Staying home during a snowstorm, avoiding dangerous roads, and keeping an eye on the weather are all effective ways to stay safe. Severe storms and winter weather can pose a serious safety risk, and taking proper precautions is never a concern that should be left to chance. Having a well-stocked emergency kit at home, in the office, and on the road can make a lifesaving difference during a winter storm or other emergency situation.