The lazy days of summer are slowly waning behind us and, in many parts of the country, a brief reprieve from the weather extremes is upon us. While it may be nice take a breather and simply enjoy the fresh, cool air, it is time to once again go through your preparations. Out with the old and in with the new. This is the perfect time to make sure that your GoBags and other preps are ready for winter.
The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the winter of 2012 will be especially wet and chilly for some parts of North America. Many meteorologists are predicting that this winter will arrive earlier, and be colder and snowier than usual.
Notes from the farmer’s Almanac
• The 2013 Almanac says that temperatures will be much colder this winter from the East Coast westward to a line from the Dakotas to Texas.
• In every place west of this line, except for portions of the Desert Southwest, temperatures will be warmer than last winter.
• Snowfall will be above normal near the Great Salt Lake and in the areas from El Paso to Detroit to Virginia Beach.
• Snowfall be will below normal in most other locations that have snow.
• Good news: Areas suffering from drought during Summer 2012 should receive enough winter precipitation to bring some improvement.
It never fails that winter brings some sort of crazy weather that causes major power outages, near impossible driving conditions , and other hardships that would make it all but impossible to get necessary food and supplies. Now is definitely the opportune time to evaluate your current preparations. If you haven’t begun any preparations, now would be the best time to start, because if you don’t have it before a blizzard or power outage hits, you won’t get it at all.
Reevaluating or creating your 72 hour kit for winter: Even if you currently keep a kit stocked and ready, you still need to check it at least twice a year and replace anything that either doesn’t fit for your current season or is no longer useful. You don’t want to be in a survival situation and have rancid food, a dead flashlight, or leaky water containers.
One of the best ways to do this is by using the change in seasons as a reminder, as there are some key elements that need to be changed out in order to fully sustain you for the minimum of 72 hours that FEMA recommends.
Items To Store in Each 72 Hour Kit
• 3 days’ worth of food – during a survival situation your body is taxed and placed in overdrive, while you will want good nutrition, it is very important to increase your caloric intake during the winter. According to the American Council On Exercise, you may burn about 400 calories an hour from shivering, depending on the temperature and the heaviness of your clothing.
• At least one gallon of drinking water (more for personal hygiene) per person per day:
Store as much water as you can, dehydration will kill you weeks faster than starvation. During winter survival situations, you never want to eat snow or drink water that is extremely cold, if possible you will want to put it in a storage container and keep it close ( not directly against your skin) to your body, this will help warm the water. Drinking cold water is the quickest way to lower your core body temperature and can easily lead to hypothermia.
• First aid and medications:
Keep in mind that you need to stock up on any necessary medications for survival, i.e. blood pressure medicine, insulin etc.
• Personal hygiene: toothpaste and toothbrush, lotion, deodorant feminine products
• Hand sanitizer
• Manual Can opener
• Contractor grade trash bags:
Great as a waterproof poncho in a pinch, or they can be used to collect and melt snow to drink
• LED flashlight with extra batteries:
Change batteries any time you reevaluate your bag. Extreme weather can sap even a brand new battery in a matter of months.
• Wind up NOAA radio:
Preferably a model with USB attachments so you can charge your smartphone and MP3 player. It’s not extremely necessary but music can increase your morale and make you more comfortable.
• Emergency thermal blanket
• Duct tape
• Sturdy pocketknife preferably a fixed blade knife
• Waterproof matches and Bic lighters.
• Changes of warm clothing:
Stay away from cotton, remember that in winter “Cotton Kills,” it does not dry quickly and actually wicks heat away from the body which could lead to hypothermia in frigid winter weather.
• Warm gloves or mittens:
Cold fingers lead to accidents
• Instant chemical hand and body warmers
• Extra wool socks besides the three day supply. If your feet get soaked you will be glad for the extras!
• Wool hat/ toboggan
• A good stock of fire wood if you have a fireplace
• Multi-layer jacket:
I prefer one that has a synthetic outer shell with a hood that blocks wind and water, coupled with a thinsulate inner jacket that zips out and can be worn separately.
• Waterproof boots or galosh’s
Keep in mind that, in most situations, the winter version of your B.O.B will technically become a B.I.B (Bug In Bag). During the winter months odds are you are not going to run out into the woods after a power loss instead your goal is going to be to stay in place and keep warm. Proper planning for winter survival can make the difference between a cold night spent shivering in the dark and a calm evening with a book by the fire.