Winter is coming. No matter how it’s said or when you hear it, there is a foreboding sense to this phrase even if it comes directly from Santa himself! Let’s take a look at the things you’ll need the most for the darkest half of the year.

  1. Food

Concentrate your excess food supply on foods that do not need to be heated, cooked, or otherwise messed with in the event of a blizzard, storm, or any sort of emergency. Yes, you can get Sterno stoves and other self-warming (or anything like these products) but they don’t last forever and it is so much better to simply have ready-to-eat foods. Cereal, MREs, and suchlike foods are good to keep on hand just in case.

  1. Water

1 gallon of water per person per day for your plans. 2 gallons for dogs and cats (each) since they tend to waste more than we do. I usually suggest having a week of water handy just in case your well or your city’s water supply is tainted or simply no longer works. Remember what happened with Michigan not too long ago? You don’t want to be the family who is rushing into Wal-Mart to find the last pallet of water to drink.

  1. First-Aid Supplies

Check your first-aid kit and make sure that all supplies in it are fresh. If they aren’t, get on it. Bandaids disappeared for a short period of time, too, and common products used to make them are starting to get a little harder for companies to find. Of course, this is pretty typical for a normal cycle of the year; textiles simply do disappear when the seasons are wrong to produce them. However, the production of these necessities has been slower than usual. And nobody wants to use expired Neosporin on a wound.

  1. Your Prescriptions

Get as much as you can carry and do it yesterday. Medication is not yet in short supply, but there are several groups predicting that we will have shortages in insulin, asthmatic medications, penicillin, and other helpful antibiotics. If you are on any of these medications, try to stockpile what you can while they’re still available.

  1. OTC Medication

The same goes for this selection. Get what you can while it’s still on the shelf. The early days of the Covid-19 pandemic are still fresh enough that I’m certain most of you reading this remember how fast Tylenol and over-the-counter medication (which may or may not have helped with the illness) simply disappeared. As Americans, we are not used to empty shelves. Don’t go and buy every bottle of medication on the shelf, but do make sure you have a few extra boxes around just in case.

  1. Batteries and Lighting

Charge your chargeable batteries at least once per month. For those that are use-and-throwaway types, make sure you have at least 3-5 rounds of batteries for every light, flashlight, and so forth. Don’t be left in the dark.

  1. Cleaning and Hygiene Items

Hand sanitizer is a water saver when your power is out due to heavy snowfall or freezing weather; or even in warmer areas that may have thunderstorms throughout this season. You’ll want to invest in baby wipes and other easy-clean wipes that leave your hands feeling clean and clear even after wiping up messes with them. These are pretty easy to find on shelves for the moment, though we fully expect to see that change as the season wears on.

  1. Purification Tablets

We’ll keep this one short and sweet: Get water purification tablets, learn to use them, and always keep them around. Check once per year for expiration dates and you will never have to deal with poor water sources again.

  1. Entertainment

This may seem strange to some of you, but no one wants to sit in a house with no power and no information simply staring at one another. A deck of cards or even some cheap board games when grabbed during Black Friday sales can be a source of entertainment that keep the kids quiet and allows the occupants of the house to remain sane.

  1. Pet and Livestock Feed

If you have to eat, so do they! An extra bag or two of dog food, or a store of square bales of hay, are important. Especially if snowy areas may become impassable for periods of time.

  1. Blankets

During this time of year, there are sales everywhere on things, like fleece blankets that are incredibly cozy. You’ll appreciate a stockpile of these if the heat goes out and you have to keep extra warm for a little while. Not only that, they’re very good to use to carry pets or people inside after an injury, to tie up an injured leg or arm, or to dry dishes with (or yourself) in a pinch.

  1. Cooling Items

Not everywhere becomes a snowy wonderland this time of year! Remember that if you’re in a warm place, go ahead and stock up on cooling cloths, get your A/C serviced, and make sure that you have your emergency needs in order, too. Heat will harm just as easily as cold. Prepare.

  1. Fuel and Wood

For those that are indeed in colder areas, measure how much gasoline your generator uses in one day. Get two weeks’ worth and store it in an outdoor, safe storage area that you can reach during a storm when you may need it. Wood, too, is very important to stock up on during this time of year. You’ll often see firewood for sale in truck beds and at several areas that usually stock feed and hay. If you have the ability to burn wood to keep warm or a fire pit that you may wish to cook over if your oven or stove is unavailable, get a truckload or two!

  1. Candles and Fire Accessories

Matches last forever. So do those grill lighters that some may find easier to work within a pinch. And candles?

Candles will never expire.

I will note that many homes are lost to candle fires every year, but simply make certain that you are careful and have a good idea of what you’re doing and how to remain safe if you do need to use candles for light. And also remember that they do not cast much nor do they provide you with heat. If you’re caught a little unprepared, however, any light is better than nothing.

I do recommend against scented candles simply because the scent may be overwhelming when burning and it may make you feel ill.

  1. Paper and Plastic Dinnerware

If your water lines are frozen, you’re not doing dishes. Grab several packs of paper plates and plastic cutlery just in case you need to serve dinner like this. At worst, you’ve got some extra party stuff around if you have an impromptu shindig. At best, you’re enjoying your blizzard pizza on some cool Target clearance printed paper plates while you wait for the lights to come back on.

Comments? Suggestions? We’d love to hear them! Tell us what we’re missing or what you may not have thought of and remember, happy prepping!

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