No. 1. Full tank of heating fuel or plenty of wood
Unless you depend on solar or geothermal heat, you need to plan for a full tank of fuel and an alternate heat source. Many homes in the northeast heat with oil or propane gas, and some with electricity. Homes in other areas typically heat with wood stoves, natural gas or electricity. A full tank of heating fuel should carry you over in a storm when trucks might not be able to get to you as easily. If you depend on deliveries or you buy from another source, don’t be caught in a storm with a low fuel tank or too little wood.
No. 2. Alternate heat source
Without a generator, oil or propane furnaces and boilers will not work in the event the electricity goes out. You need a way not only to keep yourself warm but you also need a way to keep any water pipes in the home from freezing.
In the northeast, many people have oil as our primary heat source and use wood as our alternate heat source. Another alternate heat source is a kerosene-fueled heater, with a container of kerosene (typically blue in color to identify the fuel type). Propane-fueled heaters are also available. Never use a heating source that is meant to be used outdoors in a home. Carbon monoxide fumes are a very real risk and can be easily fatal.
No. 3. Wet-dry vacuum
If the water in a pipe freezes, it expands and splits the pipe or the welds. When the frozen water in a pipe eventually thaws, it drips and then it pours. We came home once to the ceiling pouring water as if it were raining in the house due to a frozen-and-now thawed pipe. It froze not due to a heating issue in the house, but the pipe wasn’t well insulated from the cold, and the outside temperature had dropped to below zero. A wet-dry vac was essential for the cleanup.
Nos. 4-7: Warm blankets, warm clothes, warm shoes, and hand-warmers.
In cold climates, you need to stockpile a warm blanket and warm clothes at home – and in your vehicle. With heated cars, many of us may not wear shoes and clothes suited for cold weather on quick trips. A blanket, water-resistant walking shoes and/or sturdy boots, mittens, hat, sweatshirt and hand warmers are good items to stash or stockpile in your car. If you get stranded on an errand or stranded at work, you will still have the ability to stay warm and walk home if necessary. Hand warmers are small packets you activate by bending or crushing. Hunters and skiers typically use them in mittens or boots.
Nos. 8-10: Sand, shovels and a way to clear your driveway
In cold climate driving, you need a supply of sand for traction on ice, a snow shovel, and a way to clear your driveway. Self-sufficient drivers in cold climates don’t usually need to call AAA. Winter tires help (not all season, but winter-specific tires). A supply of sand in the garage and the vehicle trunk, and a snow shovel for the car and the garage are necessary items, too.
You’ll also typically need a snow plow or snow blower to clear your driveway. If you don’t have your own plow, line up a plow driver to clear your drive before cold weather hits, and make an arrangement with them to clear your drive during snowstorms.
Finally, Don’t Forget the Obvious
Do you have a way to cook if the power goes out? While it’s not absolutely necessary to be able to heat or cook warm food, it’s nice in cold weather to be able to eat hot foods. Who wouldn’t want some hot cocoa? Plan for an alternate way to cook, whether by a wood stove (you’ll probably need cast iron cookware) or by having an outside grill fueled by wood or propane gas.
Stay warm and stay safe!
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