100 Fall and Winter Preparedness Tips

Fall will be here before you know it, so here are a bunch of tips to get ready for the upcoming season…

  1. Change your furnace filters.
  2. Get your furnace tuned up and ready for use.
  3. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
  4. Make sure your fire extinguishers are fully charged.
  5. Have a flashlight in each room with fresh batteries in them.
  6. Reverse your ceiling fans for winter use.
  7. If you have a two-story home, have safe ways to exit out the window of each bedroom in case of fire.
  8. If you live in an area with dangerous weather, be sure to have a NOAA radio on hand.
  9. Have your fireplace/wood stove flue cleaned.
  10. Install carbon monoxide detectors around your home (make sure the batteries are good in these).
  11. Stockpile fuel for the winter (fuel oil/stove pellets/seasoned firewood/kerosene/etc).
  12. Clean your gutters, take down dead or dying trees, weather seal the deck, etc.
  13. Change out your summer bedding for winter bedding (flannel sheets and a down comforter are great ways to keep warm in the winter).
  14. Put away your summer clothes/shoes and break out your winter clothing/boots/etc.
  15. Clean out your medicine cabinets and first aid kits, rotate supplies, toss and replace anything that has expired, add or remove items as needed, etc.
  16. Clean out your dryer vent.
  17. Install bidets (this will greatly decrease the amount of toilet paper you need to stockpile).
  18. Clean out closets, get rid of anything you no longer wear, and buy new items as needed.
  19. Stockpile all consumables (soap, shampoo, razors, paper towels, laundry soap, etc).
  20. Expand your non-tech entertainment options (books, board games, art supplies, etc).
  21. Empty your bug out bag, restock supplies and food as needed, replace anything that has expired, replace summer clothing with winter clothing, etc.
  22. Experiment with making your own power with a battery bank and solar panels.
  23. Have a back-up heating source (kerosene heater with spare fuel for example).
  24. Have a back up cooking source (patio grill or Coleman camp stove for example).
  25. Have back-up lighting sources (candles and matches, flashlights, lanterns, rechargeable solar garden lights, etc).
  26. Have a battery-operated radio for news and information when the power goes out.
  27. Stockpile any special items you use in your home (baby diapers, adult diapers, baby formula, hearing aid batteries, et al).
  28. Sign the entire family up for a first aid/CPR/AED and/or CERT class.
  29. Take everything out of your freezer and rotate food in order to use up the oldest food first. Note any items you are low on and replace them as soon as possible.
  30. Take everything out of your pantry, rotate the food, get rid of expired items, and restock as needed.
  31. Prepare a fall/winter garden if possible.
  32. Do a final yard clean up then clean and put away all of your yard and garden machines/tools.
  33. Do a home energy audit and add insulation/weather stripping/seal windows/etc as needed.
  34. Insulate or wrap water pipes, drain and store hoses, insulate exterior water spigots, etc.
  35. Make sure your pets and other animals are ready for winter (stockpile feed, insulate the chicken coop, etc).
  36. Make sure your vehicles are ready for winter (have chains or snow tires ready to go, revamp your vehicle bug out bag, change the windshield wipers and vehicle air filters, top off fluids and antifreeze, put a shovel and some cat litter in the trunk to add traction if you get stuck, etc).
  37. Have the tools to make your vehicle safe on the road during the winter (ice scraper, snow brush, etc).
  38. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank topped off at all times; also make sure you have appropriate air in your tires.
  39. Get snow and ice removal items ready for use (de icer, snow shovel, snow blower, etc).
  40. Winterize/put away your summer “toys” (boat, RV, pool, etc) and get your winter “toys” (snowmobile, skis, ice skates) ready for use.
  41. Get your generator tuned up and ready to use during winter power outages (be sure to stockpile enough fuel as well).
  42. Clean out your disaster supplies box/closet and make sure everything is not expired, adequate for your current needs, adequately stocked, etc.
  43. Clean out the garage. Get rid of unneeded things that have been stored there, make sure chemicals/rags are stored safely, etc.
  44. Make any improvements needed deflect water away from your home (make sure the basement sump pump works, add curtain drains if needed, put a dehumidifier in the basement, etc).
  45. Cover any access holes to your attic and/or crawlspace to keep creatures from invading your home.
  46. Make it a habit to refill any prescription medications as soon as possible so you won’t be at risk of running out if there is a disaster in your area.
  47. Have non-electric back ups for your electric appliances (ie: manual can opener, coffee percolator, etc).
  48. Check and rotate your stockpiled water supply.
  49. Make sure everyone in the family has the means to stay warm during a power outage (warm clothing layers, sleeping bags, a freestanding tent that can be set up in the living room, hats, gloves, etc).
  50. Have a back up plan for your kids (a babysitter in case school is closed due to inclement weather, a way to check school closure status of their schools, a way to be notified of early release during adverse weather, a family communication plan, etc).
  51. Practice outdoor winter survival skills (camping in the back yard, starting a fire in the rain, etc).
  52. Keep up your daily exercise routine but change it up for the season if needed (ie: walking indoors instead of outdoors, trade swimming for cross country skiing, etc).
  53. Make your fireplace/woodstove as safe as possible (put up a physical barrier if you have small children in the house, use only adequately seasoned fire wood, use a fire screen, keep anything combustible several feet away, etc).
  54. Never (ever ever ever) use gasoline to start the fire in your fireplace or woodstove; use only approved firestarters if necessary.
  55. Check the weather report daily during storm season and plan your day accordingly.
  56. Have space heaters to warm small spaces but be sure to use them safely.
  57. Take winter sports safety seriously. Wear a helmet when skiing, never ice skate on naturally frozen ponds unless it is safe to do so, don’t warm up your snowmobile in an enclosed space like a barn without sufficient ventilation, etc.
  58. If you will be hunting during the fall or winter, take a hunter safety class if you haven’t done so before, make yourself visible to other hunters (wear orange!), take care when using treestands, etc.
  59. If you will be traveling during the winter, leave your itinerary and route with a trusted person who will know to look for you if you don’t check in on time.
  60. For drivers who don’t have experience driving on snow, rain, or ice, practice in a parking lot before hitting the roads (there are plenty of videos on YouTube about winter driving skills).
  61. Always keep you home well stocked so you don’t need to run to the store for milk or diapers just as a big storm is set to hit. This way you can safely stay home and know you have all that you need to weather the storm.
  62. Keep clean up/disaster abatement supplies on hand. If a tree crashes through your roof, have tarps and ropes on hand to keep rain out of the area. If a window breaks, have plastic sheeting and duct tape on hand to make a quick repair. If flooding happens, have buckets, rubber gloves, and other cleaning supplies on hand for clean up.
  63. Review your home insurance policy so you will know what is, and what isn’t, covered when it comes to winter storm damage (wind damage, flood damage, tree damage, etc).
  64. If you live in a very cold area, know about ice dams, snow fences, car engine block warmers, etc.
  65. Sign up for your community’s emergency alert system (usually found on the city/county department of emergency management website).
  66. Keep cash safely stored at home in case you can’t access your bank or ATM.
  67. Back up all of your important documents then keep these documents in a safe place, ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. Ditto computer files, pictures, etc.
  68. Keep back-up battery banks charged for emergency use. This includes portable 10k battery banks that can charge your phone a few times to battery jumper boxes, and larger Jackery-style portable battery power stations.
  69. Be knowledgeable about winter first aid (how to identify and treat hypothermia, frostbite, burn injuries, etc).
  70. Have a list of people you can call for emergency, risky jobs that you probably shouldn’t be doing yourself like removing snow from the roof, sawing up downed trees, etc.
  71. When in doubt, stay home. Wind storms, ice storms, snow storms, etc. all mean dangerous driving and dangerous conditions you could get stranded in.
  72. Stockpile easy-to-eat food (energy bars, cereal, sandwich supplies) that you can eat during a power outage and which don’t require cooking.
  73. Consider using disposable products (paper plates, plastic utensils) if you can’t easily wash dishes.
  74. Stock a bunch of “treats” to lift spirits during a bad storm or power outage (ie: cookies, candy, hot chocolate or S’mores supplies, new comic or coloring books, etc).
  75. If a storm is coming that could shut down your access to water, fill the bathtub and buckets so you will have water for flushing, cleaning, etc.
  76. Be sure to check on friends and neighbors, especially the elderly, during bad storms to make sure everyone is doing OK.
  77. Follow local YouTubers for up-to-date information on local storms. Ryan Hall and Reed Timmer offer exceptional coverage of tornadoes/hurricanes/etc.
  78. Use a programmable thermostat; your home will be warm when you wake up and it will lower temps when you go to bed.
  79. If you must walk outside, wear adequate layered clothing, winter socks and shoes/boots, and non-slip protection like YakTrax. Carrying rechargable hand warmers is another good idea.
  80. If you have medically fragile people at your home, plan in advance for their care. Have back up power for ventilators and CPAPs, consider evacuating them to a safer location before a big storm hits, have a plan to acquire supplemental oxygen and medications if the roads are too icy to drive on, etc.
  81. Keep a packet of emergency documents for ill or infirm family members. This should include a list of current medications and medical history, DNR order, living will, medical power or attorney, health insurance card, etc.
  82. If your area is hit by a major storm, prepare for no one to answer your 911 call, no access to an ambulance or an EMS service, no police response, no garbage pick up, etc. for one or more days.
  83. Also be prepared to protect yourself and your family. Emergency responders will be stretched thin during a disaster and help may not arrive for hours or days.
  84. Have the tools and supplies on hand to make minor plumbing, construction, and electrical fixes.
  85. Be proactive and clear storm drains by your home to prevent water from backing up into your yard and possibly home.
  86. Know where and how to turn off the main water valve in your home if a pipe bursts.
  87. Be aware of any mental or physical changes in the people in your home/neighbors. Many people have heart attacks from the sudden exertion of shoveling snow, the change of season can have a detrimental effect on people’s mental health, holidays can be challenging psychologically for some people, etc.
  88. Plan ahead for winter travel. Prepare to be stranded in an airport due to storm or snow delays, carry winter clothing even if you are going to a tropical location in case you get stuck in a cold area on the way to your destination, and have enough funds to cover travel delays (extra food, hotel costs, etc).
  89. Update your video inventory of everything in (and outside of) your home in case you need the information for an insurance claim.
  90. Keep all electronics charged up. Unexpected power outages mean it is just good practice to always keep your phone, tablet, laptop, batteries, etc. charged up daily.
  91. Use storm windows and storm doors for an extra layer of protection during the winter. Remove window air conditioners and seal the space until spring.
  92. If you have a major home system in poor condition (furnace, hot water tank, roof, etc), consider replacing the item before storm season starts.
  93. Install useful apps on your cell phone (emergency alerts, weather alerts, traffic alerts, mountain driving updates, etc).
  94. Plan season-appropriate activities for the family (fall harvest festivals, holiday events, inside activities at the library or kid’s museum, skiing or sledding, etc).
  95. Hit up the Dollar Store for emergency items like matches, first aid supplies, tarps, etc.
  96. Bring pets inside during harsh weather even if they usually stay outside.
  97. If you work in an office, keep an emergency bag of supplies in your desk in case you get stranded overnight in your office due to bad weather.
  98. Learn how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning (a common killer during the winter). Don’t use outdoor cooking appliances indoors, don’t set your generator exhaust right under a window, always ensure good ventilation when using alternate heating sources, etc.
  99. In every situation, consider injury prevention tactics. Falls are the leading cause of death and injury for the elderly so avoiding fall situation (icy stairs, snowy walkways) should always be a top priority. Ditto fire prevention (don’t drop a frozen turkey into a deep fryer!), avoid driving during storms, don’t walk near ice covered power lines, etc.
  100. Remember EDAM. Educate your family, drill various scenarios, keep a positive attitude, make due with what you have in any particular situation.