Do you know the 4 Ps of Winter Safety?
How to create a winter survival kit for each part of your life.
A winter survival kit can mean different things to different people. For some, surviving the winter means staying busy with your favorite passions. Snowboarding and winter fishing are on the docket for some. For others, it’s candles, cozy blankets, a good book and a wood-burning fire. We all approach the winter season a bit differently. You can embrace the season, have some fun, and get your work done, safely, it just takes some research and planning.
A quick Google search turned up a clever alliteration used to remind people what they need to focus one when it comes to winter preparedness. Friends, I give you the 4Ps of winter safety: people, pets, pipes, and plants. I’m going to take some creative liberties with this common construct used by weather folks across the nation to highlight areas we should address so we may thrive and survive when the temperatures dip.
How are you taking care of your People this winter?
Whether you are road-tripping, commuting, or hanging at home, hygge style, the following tips will help you navigate safely during the winter months.
Sign up for weather alerts
Sign-up for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). According to the FCC, “Since its launch in 2012, the WEA system has been used more than 61,000 times to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations – all through alerts on compatible cell phones and other mobile devices. WEA is a public safety system that allows customers who own compatible mobile devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.”
WEAs can be sent by state and local public officials, the National Weather Service, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the President of the United States. Keep in mind that these alerts will ping your phone any hour of the day.
Winterize your car
Before you put together a winter safety kit for your family car or work truck make sure you’ve checked the oil and kicked the tires. We are all busy, going in different directions so the last thing you want to deal with is a dead battery or bald tires when an unexpected ice storm hits.
The National Safety Council suggests the following tips to winterize your vehicle in addition to regular car maintenance.
- Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops.
- Make sure the cooling system is in good working order.
- Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car.
- If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch.
- Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops.
- Check your wiper blades and replace them if needed.
- Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze.
Prepare a winter vehicle survival kit
You can take care of the important people in your life by making sure they have the necessary supplies in their cars in case of an emergency. We’ve put together a list of popular items people include in an automobile. Winter survival kit information is listed below:
Winter Survival Car Kit List
- First aid items
- Battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio,
- OTC medications (such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, etc)
- Common tools
- Jumper cables
- Flashlights, extra batteries
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container and candles
- Blankets and sleeping bags.
- Can opener
- Protein bars, dried fruit, nuts or other snacks
- Garage bags
If you don’t want to put your own kit together you can purchase a vehicle winter survival kit from places like the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross Car Survival Kit with Winter Supplies can be found on their website. For the more adventurous folks or those that need something a little more substantial for work and play, a better option might be DECKED’s collaboration with Uncharted Supply Company.The DECKED D-Bag is a versatile, military-grade hybrid soft and hard shell bag. Organize and transport this bug out kit to the job site, campsite, airport, trailhead, office...anywhere.
How are you taking care of your pets this winter?
If your four-legged friend is a frequent travel partner you might need to make some additions to your winter safety kit. Gift your furry friend with new leashes, harnesses and treats that get stored in your car or truck for emergencies. Also, make sure you are keeping up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations. The last thing you want is to be turned away at an evacuation shelter because your pet’s vaccinations are out of date so include copies of your pet’s records in your winter survival kit. For homeless or feral cats that might live in your area considering building or buying an outdoor shelter to keep them comfortable.
The Humane Society of the United States also provides some helpful tips on protecting your companion pets and other animals in cold climates.
- Bring your companion animals indoors.
- Create a place where your other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather.
- Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice, and rain.
- Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
- Be aware of the potential for flooding when snow and ice melt and be sure that your animals have access to high ground that is not impeded by fencing or other barriers. You may not be able to get to them in time to relocate them in the event of flooding.
- Install snow fences in rural areas to reduce drifting snow on roads and paths, which could block access to homes, barns, and animals' feed and water.
How are you taking care of your Pipes and the rest of your home when the temperatures drop?
Depending on where you live, winter storms may mean snow and bitter temperatures or freezing rain and ice. Before winter-weather alerts start pinging your phone, be sure your pipes and the rest of your house is protected and prepared for any disruptions to your daily routines.
Check your pipes
Pay attention to your pipes before the next storm. Water in pipes can freeze when outside temperatures plummet. The pressure caused by the freezing water can cause pipes to burst. Burst pipes will most definitely throw a wrench in your day. Include these tips from the American Red Cross into your home winter survival kit planning to help prevent your pipes from freezing
Stock your pantry
Stock your pantry with food and water. Blizzards, ice storms, and power outages may cause havoc with your normal shopping routines. Be sure you have plenty of food that doesn’t need refrigeration like canned goods, beans, instant coffee, tea, peanut butter, bread, protein bars, and cereals. Fresh fruit like bananas, oranges, and apples are great options as well. When stocking your pantry prior to impending storms or emergency situations, many emergency-preparedness experts agree that stocking items you would normally eat is the way to prepare. If you eat rice and beans, store rice and beans, if you don’t eat rice and beans don’t store them. Now’s not the time to try out a new diet. Some experts even recommend buying comfort items like packaged cookies, chips, and boxed mac and cheese, for morale reasons, of course.
Check your carbon monoxide detectors and fire detectors
With the change of season, it’s always a good reminder to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they’re still working. It’s best to have detectors that are battery-backed.
Replenish or create a home survival kit
In addition to a stocked pantry, you might also want to refresh an existing home survival kit or create a new one. Suggested items include:
- Any prescriptions or OTC pain medications
- First Aid Kit
- Candles, lighters and matches
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Extra phone chargers or battery packs
- A battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio.
- Fire-wood, gasoline, or propane
- Extra blankets or sleeping bags
- Non-perishable snacks
- Bottled Water
If you need additional inspiration, here’s a great source of information from notable surviorists.
Consider buying a generator
If you live in an area that frequently experiences power outages or if you do a lot of camping, you might want to consider buying a portable generator. Read more about portable generators from Popular Mechanics.
How are you taking care of your plants and outdoor space?
Plants & Trees
When winter storms bring large amounts of snow or heavy ice, it can cause stress and damage to some of your trees and perennials. Well-pruned trees and scrubs are the best defense for heavy snow or ice. For more ways to prepare and mitigate winter damage in your yard and gardens, check out these ten tips on winter garden preparation for a better spring thaw.
Snow Removal or Service
If you take care of your own snow removal, make sure your snowblower has been tuned-up and has fuel and that your snow shovels are clean and easily accessible. If a neighborhood kid takes care of your snow removal or if you have a service, make sure you have an agreement or contract in place way before the first major snowstorm.
One last thing. Be a good community member. Shovel around those fire hydrants to keep them clear. When minutes count in a fire, if firefighters have to dig out a hydrant to hook up a hose, it can hamper their ability to quickly fight the fire.