Thursday, October 10, 2019

Prepping for Winter

It's once again that time of year to switch from shorts and T-shirts to wool socks and flannel shirts. Fall is here, and that means winter is not far behind.

Here in fly-over country, the temperatures went from 90 to 55 like they saw a state trooper. Older building will switch from heat in the mornings to air conditioning in the afternoons, and they're predicting the first frost for this weekend. Most of today's post will concern those of us who live in colder regions, so the folks down south can read it for entertainment purposes.

Winter means that most of us have to rethink our daily preps and “change gears” in our thinking about the short-term preps. Staying warm moves up on the list of importance and insects become less of a problem. The BOB/GHB will grow in size as the extra layers of clothes are added. It's time to take stock and see where changes need to be made.

  • Check your doors and windows, make sure they close and seal properly. Adding a doorsweep/draft stopper to outside doors is an easy project that will keep some of the cold air out of your house. Putting them on interior doors may be an option if you want to close off unused rooms and heat only the ones you're actually living in.
  • Heaters need to be checked. If you have a furnace, either have it checked or do it yourself. Change to filters to improve airflow and at least look at the gas lines/ wiring to make sure they are still in good shape.
  • If you use fuel to provide heat, it's time to make sure you have enough. Propane and fuel oil tank levels should be checked and wood piles need to be refilled and covered. Natural gas and electrical heat are at the mercy of your utility companies (see David's post from yesterday), so you should look at your backup heat sources.
  • Years ago I lived in an old house with water pipes that were so poorly placed that they would freeze when the temperatures dropped down to about 10° F. Frozen pipes means no water and possibly busted pipes, so I had to insulate the vulnerable ones and place heat tapes on most of them. This is the time of year to check the heat tapes and insulation to ensure that vermin haven't destroyed them.
  • It's also time to winterize the lawn mower and get out the snow shovels. I don't have enough sidewalk or driveway to warrant a snowblower, but if you have one it's time to get it serviced before everyone panics after the first snowfall. Shovels are simple tools, but they need to be kept clean and straight to work best. I use an aluminum grain shovel for snow and have to smooth out the nicks and dents every year.

  • I have a fairly high metabolism, so I change my diet with the weather. It's time to switch to high-calorie foods and warm beverages to stay warm.
  • Fats and oils provide dense calories and store better than fresh vegetables, so my menus change with the seasons. As I get older, it takes my body a bit longer to adjust to changes in diet so I try to make the changes slowly.
  • Harvest season is in full swing, so there are plenty of locally-grown foods to stock up on. The orchards and farmers markets are open and prices are better than they'll be in a few months. If you can your own food, you're already in full production by now.
  • Cold weather and freezing temps means that I can't store water in my vehicles, so I switch to empty water bottles and a way to melt ice and snow.

  • Winterizing a vehicle is an annual chore. The most common issue I've run into over the years is weak batteries; once the temps drop below freezing it takes more power to start an engine, so a battery that worked fine all summer will pick the coldest day to die on you. Have your battery tested at an auto parts store and replace it before it leaves you stranded somewhere.
  • Modern technology has improved the coolant in most cars, but it still needs to be checked. Any auto parts store will sell you a hygrometer to check the density of your anti-freeze and most oil-change shops will check it for you as part of their service. Add or change your anti-freeze as needed; it's a lot cheaper than replacing a cracked engine.
  • Tires have also been improving over the years, but you still need to make sure you have enough tread left to give you traction in mud/snow/ice. Check your tires now, before you need that extra traction.
  • Those who live in mountainous regions or drive through them will know what tire chains are and how to use them. If you carry chains, it's time to pull them out and inspect them. Repair or replace worn chains, because having one fail while driving is a nerve-wracking experience that can do serious damage to your car.

Fall is busy for me. My day job is working with farmers, so I'm working long hours and don't get many days off between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. My preps are always a work in progress, so there are some that are closer to what I want to have than others. Keep improving what you have and try to get ready for what is coming -- that's the basics of prepping for me.


  1. All are great points.
    I suggest spraying a film of silicone lube on your snow removal tools.
    Use a spray that will dry, and not one that remains liquid.


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