Every fall, Americans across the country gain an extra hour each day when they “fall back” and reset their clocks one hour later with the end of Daylight Savings Time. The extra hour of sleep is wonderful; the week or so of a whacked-out body clock is not. But however you feel about the time change, it’s a great time to get prepped for winter!
Our family enjoyed that extra hour of sleep, especially since the temperatures outside have turned chilly. Those warm, cozy blankets had us wrapped in Dreamland, not wanting to wake or get out of bed!
Whenever Daylight Savings Time rears its ugly head (I am no fan of this insane plan to “gain” an hour), I assign the kids to go around the house and change all clocks, watches, and then the clocks in our vehicles. Then the batteries in smoke detectors are swapped out for fresh ones.
Besides these tasks, DST is also a reminder to double-check preps for winter readiness.
Preparing for Winter Weather
- Add emergency lighting to each room in your home. Since the days are so much shorter, the chances of sitting around in a cold and very dark house are much greater. Light sources are very important, both for practical reasons and for comfort. The light source I recommend for each room is a Luci solar lantern.This handy lantern charges quickly with whatever light happens to be in a room. Sometimes I set it near a window to charge; other times, it charges just from the ambient light around it.The lantern is inflatable and, therefore, collapses to a very small size. This is handy because I want the lantern to be in bedside tables and in handy spots in our living room, family room, and kitchen. During Hurricane Harvey, this is the lantern that provided a great source of light for reading and taking care of household chores. Read more uses for the Luci Solar Lantern here.
- Unpack all emergency kits/Bug Out Bags. Do this kit check every six months. Check for stale food, leaks in containers, clothing, and shoes that no longer fit. If you’ve discovered a new “must-have” for your kit, now is the time to add it.
- Repack all emergency kits and bags for the winter. Include hand and foot warmers, gloves, wool caps, extra wool socks, long johns (my silk long johns have lasted at least two decades and still keep me warm), and a small emergency stove/heater.
- Educate yourself about staying warm. Learn how to triple your warmth!
- Review the emergency kit/supplies you keep in your car. If you don’t have one, read this post for how to assemble a vehicle kit. For the winter, you may need to add an ice scraper and brush, a sturdy snow shovel, and a box of kitty litter. Throw a pair of waterproof boots in the trunk. Roll up a couple of wool blankets and store them under the back seats.
- Get ready for cold temps in your car by adding an immersion heater to every vehicle emergency kit. This one item alone, powered by your car battery, allows you to melt snow to have a water source, heat up water to add to things like hot chocolate mix or soup mix, and have warm water for sanitation. Here are more details about assembling a Winter Survival Food Kit.
- Prep your car for breakdowns and being stranded in winter weather. Learn more about how to get your car ready for cold temps.
- Test your generator and make sure you have enough fuel to last at least 2-3 weeks. If you want to add one to your preparedness gear, learn how to buy your first generator and assess whether or not you need one in this Survival Mom course, “Home Generator Smarts.”
- Hit a few thrift stores or yard sales and buy extra blankets. They have so many uses during the winter, aside from the obvious. Here are all the different ways I put blankets to work, especially in the winter!
- Very cold weather will likely freeze any emergency water containers in your vehicles. Read this post for a few tips about keeping water from freezing.
- In a power outage, how would you cook a meal? This week, track down any and all off-grid stoves, whether a solar oven, a gas grill, a hibachi, or DIY rocket stove, and make sure you have the fuel necessary to cook a few meals in an emergency.
- Equip your kids’ coat pockets with hand and foot warmers and, for signaling, LED flashlights and whistles. Get hand warmers here!
- Review your kids and grandkids’ winter readiness overall. Do they know what to do if they get lost in the snow or caught in a chilly rainstorm? Do they know how to signal for help? Answers to these questions and more are in this article, “Everything You Need to Know About Winter Survival for Kids.”
- Consider a cold-weather scenario that might strand you or a family member at the workplace, and put together a workplace emergency kit.
- If you heat your home with wood, have your chimney or flue cleaned and/or inspected.
- Woodstove and gas users should have carbon monoxide detectors with a battery backup.
- Safeguard your spigots by disconnecting garden hoses and covering faucets with an insulated slip-on cover.
- Review your family preparedness plan.
- If you don’t already have one, establish a family communications plan.
- Teach everyone how to shut off water valves.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy and train everyone in their use.
- Identify and address drafts in your home.
- Check your space heaters. Always plug them directly into a wall outlet, not a power strip. Space heaters can overload the power strip and cause fires. Also, place the heating unit away from hazards. FYI: Heating fires are the second most common cause of fires after cooking.
Daylight Savings Time day is the perfect time to review all your preps and get ready for cold temps. Another great tool for winter readiness is the 2023 Survival Mom Prepping Calender. Its weekly reminders and simple to-do’s make it easy for you to get ready for cold temps.
What do you do to get prepped for winter weather?
Originally published December 1, 2019; updated by The Survival Mom editors.