Prepare Now for the Coming Winter


How to survive a power outage in relative comfort

Like it or not, winter is right around the corner. The falling leaves will soon give way to falling snow.

You can take steps now to better cope with the challenges winter presents to us. You might have already winterized your house and your car. Now it’s time to winterize your family.

First, think back to 2013 and the massive power outage caused by the ice storm. While utilities have worked to put more wires underground, there are many areas where another ice storm could leave you in the dark for days or even weeks.

WebMD recommends you have the following items on hand in case of a blackout:

  • Flashlights and batteries; candles are not a wise choice because in bad weather, you can have a fire, and no one can reach you.
  • Plenty of blankets.
  • Salt or sand for treacherous sidewalks.
  • A safe, radiant space heater without open coils.
  • A fan for fireplace that blows heat into the room and does not suck it up the chimney.
  • Supplies of medication to last a few days, at least.
  • The phone numbers of older or disabled neighbors, just in case.

WebMD also recommends winterizing your kitchen as well. In other words, make sure the pantry is full, so you can make food for your family if you cannot get to the grocery store for a few days.

Dr. Larrian Gillespie, author of “The Goddess Diet,” told WebMD that winter is all about comfort.

“Soups, soups,” she said. “You want to stock your larder for those unexpected snow days. It’s hard to make a bad soup. Just add the flavor with herbs and spices and avoid carbs that raise blood sugar such as pasta. Instead use barley and chunky root veggies, such as carrots and turnips. If you use meat, cool the soup first and remove the hardened fat, then reheat.”

Other items to stock up on include:

  • Steel-cut oats, for oatmeal
  • Frozen berries
  • Peanut butter
  • Tuna
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Canned juices
  • Crackers/bread
  • Long-keeping milk
  • Vitamins
  • Baby food
  • Pet food
  • Carrots, squash, and apples
  • Raisins and nuts
  • A slow cooker

The Department of Homeland Security recommends three days’ worth of food.

A comforting chicken stew recipe from Taste of Home could be the perfect comfort food after a day of playing in the snow.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 cups cubed peeled potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 can (6 ounces) no-salt-added tomato paste

1/4 cup cold water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional

In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients; cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

Mix water and cornstarch until smooth; stir into stew. Cook, covered, 30 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender.

If desired, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Makes up to 10 servings.

You also should have an emergency kit for your car. Being stranded in the cold can be very dangerous.

Smart Asset recommended these must-have items to keep in your car.

Water: You can go much longer without food than without water. Keep water in the car, not in the trunk, to reduce the risk that your water will freeze. If you live someplace with extreme winters and dangerous roads, you might consider springing for a small camp stove that you can use to melt snow and ice.

Blankets: Keep warm clothes and blankets at home and in your car. It’s better to keep winter supplies in the main part of your car rather than in the trunk. You don’t want to have to step outside of your car in a whiteout. A space-efficient option is the space blanket. Also known as emergency blankets or Mylar blankets, these silver blankets do a great job keeping your body heat in.

Flashlight: Include a larger flashlight, and check often to make sure the batteries are fresh. Add a few flares in the emergency kit. If you run off the road, you can use both flashlights and flares to signal for help.

Shovel: You never know when you might have to dig your way out of a jam. You don’t need a full-sized snow shovel. A compact shovel will do the job. Go to the Army-Navy surplus store and pick up a folding entrenching tool – it’s a perfect size for keeping in the car. Don’t forget to use your shovel to keep the tailpipe of your car clear if you’re planning on running the engine.

Food: Calorie-dense food that keeps well is best for winter preparedness. Keep some power bars, nuts and dried fruit in your car so you’ll have something to eat if you’re stuck in your vehicle.

First aid kit: If you still don’t have a first aid kit in your car, now is the time to make that investment. In addition to the standard first aid kit components, you should keep a supply of any medicines necessary to you and your family. You don’t want to be stuck in your car when your asthma inhaler runs out.

Radio: A radio lets you stay up on emergency announcements and weather updates. It will also provide a source of entertainment during potentially long, boring hours stuck in your car. Look for radios that are battery-powered or that have solar or hand-crank charging. Check your radio periodically in good weather to make sure it’s still in working order.

Toiletries: No, not mascara- and the like. This is toilet paper and a jar with a lid. Being prepared with the basics will help you stay comfortable if you’re snowed in.

And the rest: Sand or cat litter for traction, tire chains, booster cables, a cellphone, extra warm clothing or boots, an ice scraper, a winter sleeping bag or blankets, matches and newspapers.

Tags: winter survival

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