On the first really chilly night of fall, I took a look at my emergency kit and the supplies for my auxiliary heat in case the power goes out, and decided I needed to do a complete update of the kit.
First order of business was to take all the blankets, warm socks and changes of clothing out of the kit and wash, dry and replace them in tight neat bundles wrapped in plastic.
Then I counted the hand and body warmer packets and put them on a shopping list. If you are not familiar with hand and body warmers they are little chemical packets that you squeeze to pop an inside container and shake to mix the contents. They then heat up and keep your hands or body warm in cold conditions. They come in various sizes and can be carried in your pocket, purse or backpack all winter long for those occasions when the weather turns nasty suddenly. You should also keep a supply in the emergency kit for use in “the emergency”. You can find these little gems in the camping supplies section of many stores including sporting goods stores, hardware stores, some grocery stores and department stores that carry the other camping supplies.
I checked out my supply of little propane cylinders for my “Mr. Heater” unit. There are other little emergency heater units on the market and you should make sure yours works. Clean it, fire it up, and let it run for a while to make sure there are no problems with it and then let it cool and pack it with extra fuel into the emergency kit. Remember that any combustible heat source uses oxygen and runs the risk of causing fires so it would not hurt to pack a paper noting safety precautions with the device.
I have a very small portable charcoal grill and half a bag of charcoal briquettes in my emergency kit. I would never fire this up in the house but it works well to fire it up on the patio and heat soup, water for tea, or even to heat bricks for wrapping in towels for personal warming devices.
Preparing your emergency kit for winter depends a lot on where you live. Think about your worst case weather and decide if you need protection from forty degrees below zero temperatures, monsoonal rains, fire, flood or pestilence. Put specific items of clothing such as snow boots or rubber boots into the kit. Always be sure there are changes of warm dry clothing for each family member.
Be sure to store plenty of water and a small bottle of bleach with no additives for sterilizing more water if you need it. Pack enough non-perishable food for at least seven days. My advice is two weeks because you never know how widespread a real disaster may become.
Include flashlights, a first aid kit, a deck of cards or a board game and books for the kids, extra batteries and any other must haves for your specific family needs.
Preparing for winter emergencies means to be totally prepared to be entirely self-sufficient and sufficient to help any helpless or hapless neighbors as well for as long as possible. Do not count on any outside source for assistance or rescue…it may happen, it may not. Be your own hero.