Through A Winter Storm

Since writing Blackout, I decided maybe I should let everyone into my life a bit more. I did a lot of research for the book series, and have been trying to make it as close to a good version of fiction-realty as I am able to. I spent hours looking up doomsday prepping. Among other things my poor kids have had to endure now through the years, is also my new passion for canning and homesteading.

So, in light of that information, here will be my weekly segment on my “doomsday” prepping and homesteading.

This week we have been dealing with a new storm coming our way. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Southern Minnesota we feel done with winter now. As I am writing this we are looking at over a full foot of snow. Two weekends ago we had a complete shut down of my area of the state for two full days. The army was called out to rescue people from the highways and local citizens grabbed their snow mobiles to help wherever they could. This storm today is looking to be just as similar.

This week’s prepping blog will be on getting set up for long storms like this one. This will not count for anything destructive like a tornado or hurricane, but will work for any storms that cause you to shelter in place for up to a week. Here are a few things you should always have prepared for such a situation: water, warmth, and food.

As my kids constantly repeat while we are learning new skills: You will die in 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

Obviously this is dependent on location and climate, but it is a great reminder to get things in order.

FEMA says to prepare for three days without government interference during most natural disasters or dangerous situations. I say that is a good start, but as this winter has proven to my family, prepare for a week instead.

Air: make sure your fire alarms, carbon dioxide alarms, and fire extinguishers are working well. Another air quality issue is to make sure you can burn candles or lamps safely indoors. Check your cooking supplies as well to make sure they are for indoor use during a power outage and not the ones that can kill you by giving off fumes or toxins.

Shelter: Make sure your house is set for a long time without electricity. Remember that electric covers all water pumps and heating/cooling systems. This also includes sanitation issues like flushing toilets and keeping things clean without running water. Stock up on paper and plastic throw away things instead of trying to do dishes if your power goes out. Another tip is to fill the bathtub up to as high as possible to be able to gravity flush your toilet.

Water: A gallon of water per living thing in the household per day. In my house we have four kids, two adults, three dogs, three cats and a frog. I can use one gallon a week for the frog. The other animals and people follow the one gallon per day each. This is drinking and cooking water. So do not think that a gallon a cat is excessive. You might find you need that water to cook a meal.

Food: An average person needs quite a few calories to survive in a high active state. I am going to give you the best advice I can ever with this, though: Don’t go crazy or overthinking your food supply. Create a list in advance to the storm. Make a weeks worth of non-refrigerated breakfasts, lunches, a snack, and a supper. We can our own food, but if you’re not against it then get some canned meals like raviolis or soups. Food fatigue is a thing, though. Do not think that everyone will enjoy rice and beans with every meal.

How do I do it? Here it goes:

My first trip to the store is always to stock up on water. My water through my tap from my well is not drinking water. If the power goes out then we lose our filtration systems. I always filter our water three ways before we store it if I am getting it from my well. For a storm such as today’s I will just go to the store and buy our water in gallon jugs. We keep these gallons underneath our large queen size bed. When I restock for a new storm, then we pull out the old ones and use them in our kitchen. Not hard to just rotate these every month or so.

I then sit down and come down with a complete list of meals for the week. Every meal and every snack is set in my plan. Get shelf stable foods. Remember we are planning for a power outage with the large storm. I also check my pots and pans in my camping gear to make sure I am able to cook such meals. I use a new small grill as my indoor cooking “stove”. DO NOT USE COAL OR OTHER GRILL SUPPLIES INSIDE! It takes longer, but I put candles inside the bottom of the grill as close to the grate as possible as my “fire” to heat my camping pot. Remember to keep your supplies for putting out the fire if need be close by and to keep your CO2 detector also in the room. Most store canned foods can be eaten without being heated up. Get some dried fruits and bars for snacks. Go shopping for the things you need as soon as you have this.

Now that we have food and water, we need to start checking our shelter. A winter storm like this will cut the wind through the windows. Stock up on blankets, try to make sure you have your windows set to insulate, and again check your sanitation supplies. We make sure we have the tacks set to close off one of our living rooms to make the heat stay in one room. During the large polar vortex our outside temperature got down to negative 60 (F) and we lost our heater for the entire thing. The kids still set and played games just fine and did some school work in comfort. We kept the one room we had at about 68 (F) degrees. When the guy came to fix the heater he was shocked at our set up. Be the shock for your rescuers, too. Stay warm. Remember to insulate windows, doors and openings with blankets. This allows breathing but doesn’t let in the cold to the degree leaving them open would. Look into any heating that isn’t ran on electricity with caution. Read everything you can before you buy it. Not everything is meant for a house.

Bathtub filled for flushing the toilet, Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, and paper dishes for garbage. If you know of anything more that your family might need every day during a week, then grab it now as well.

Not really in either category is our electronic needs. Most of us don’t have phones connected to our walls any longer. We only have cell phones in this house, so we have three battery packs for them. Our phones stay on their charges to the wall until the power is out. Once we have no electricity then we only use the phones for emergencies until power is restored.

Entertainment would be an issue without computers, TV, video games, and such in most cases. Especially when everyone must be stuck in one room for safety and warmth. We have many card games, board games, activity books, reading books, and of course toys that don’t need a lot of room to play with. My kids are homeschooled so they also have their school work to do if need be.

All of this seems like one week of no fun, but really we like to just pretend to be camping during this time. The kids love using their flashlights (with red coverings to not blind me when they accidentally turn it to my face like all kids do). We make things as entertaining as possible for the kids and they never realize their full danger of the situation. This is for one storm, too.

We always make sure we are prepared for every storm. This was just for a winter storm. We have already been stuck inside for more than 90% of this winter due to the weather. Since I prep for long term issues, then we are very much comfortable even if we missed going to the store for this storm (we did make it out before the storm to gather our supplies).

Do not feel the need to go broke for one storm, either. Do not go out with the masses to grab random things, either. Go before the rush and do it with a complete list. This keeps you in a budget and also keeps you away from the panic.

Adversity Prepping Tip: When going shopping for food on a regular day or week, just grab a few extra cans of a sale item your family will eat to add to your food preps. One or two cans a week to put into long term storage starts to stack up over time.

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