Survive a Cold Winter

Whether you’re just visiting a colder climate for the winter holidays, or you’ve relocated to an area with cold winter conditions unfamiliar to you; be prepared and protect yourself and your family, your home and your automobile.


  1. Prepare your home and your car for the winter. Make sure you stay warm at home and that your car is ready to weather extreme temperatures.
  2. Adjust your wardrobe. For sleeping attire; get out your “long johns” and flannel pajamas. Keep a robe handy to your bed for use when you get up. Put your flip-flops in the closet and get out some slippers with a sole and a warm lining. Wear heavier socks. Winter months mean storing your T-shirts and shorts away and switching to sweats, lightweight but warm sweaters with long sleeves. (Keep a couple of those T-shirts on hand to wear as an undergarment.) Invest in thermal undergarments.
  3. Eat right. A hot breakfast versus cereal with cold milk can make a big difference. Oatmeal, eggs and toast, pancakes or waffles or even a bowl of soup will take you farther. (Sprinkle some freshly made popcorn over a bowl of tomato soup for breakfast or lunch. It’s a treat that will help keep you warm.) Keep your carbs up. Hot pasta dishes, a stove-top stew of potatoes and chunky vegetables are great tummy warmers. (Afraid of added weight? Your body will burn those carb calories keeping you warm. Or get out there and move some snow; it’s great exercise.)
  4. Add another blanket to the bed. Down-filled bedding is pricey, but well worth the investment. Consider flannel sheets and/or a quilt.

Driving on Snow and Ice

  1. When driving in and on snow or sleet and ice, great care must be taken. Be alert, focus on what you’re doing. Avoid being distracted by loud music or your cellular phone.
  2. Keep a good distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you. (And watch your rear view mirror for who is behind you.)
  3. Keep your headlights on while driving during daylight hours. This allows other drivers to see you. When driving at night while it’s snowing, refrain from using the “bright” or “high” beams of your headlights. Falling snow will reflect the light right back at you and obstruct your view.
  4. Reduce your speed and be sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.

Emergency Preparedness At Home

  1. Prepare an “emergency” kit, keep it well-stocked and educate everyone in your household where it will be stored. Keep it within reach of anyone over three feet of height. Your kit should include:
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Candles and a lighter or plenty of matches. (Wrap them in a plastic bag to help keep them dry) You might have a battery operated lamp or an oil lamp. (Do not store an oil lamp with oil in it. Keep this flammable liquid tightly sealed and separate until you need to use it.)
    • A battery operated radio
    • Foodstuffs – Keep foods on hand that can be eaten cold.
    • Canned fruit
    • Canned meats such as tuna or shredded beef
    • Cereals that can be eaten dry
    • Chocolate bars or a couple bags of chocolate chips
    • Plenty of water
    • A small, propane operated camping stove and at least two extra canisters of propane. (Do not ever, ever use a charcoal-type camping or cooking unit indoors!)

Emergency Preparedness in the Car

  1. Avoid driving in weather conditions such as a blizzard, extreme cold and high winds or in rural areas of your community. Know where you are. Before you leave your starting point, advise a family member, friend or neighbor of your destination and judge the approximate duration of the trip. If possible, contact those persons if you will be delayed. Notify them when you reach your destination.
  2. In item number 2, it was noted that a car cover should be of a bright, neon color on one side. If no such item can be found, apply a very large X on the roof section of the car cover. This can be achieved with vinyl, waterproof tape or take the car cover to an upholster to have a durable, highly reflective vinyl X sewn on. On the front and rear sides of the cover, use the same methods to apply your license plate number. When not in use, keep the car cover in the trunk.
  3. Prepare an emergency kit to keep in your trunk containing:
    • Flares
    • Flashlight and batteries (keep in the glove box or inside the vehicle)
    • Candles and a lighter or matches (keep them dry in a sealed, plastic bag
    • Battery operated radio
    • Spare batteries for your cellphone and flashlight
    • 2 bags of sand (one on each side of the trunk, near the wheel wells. This will provide added traction while driving and the sand can be used around your tires if you become stuck.)
    • A camping shovel
    • At least one sleeping bag, preferably one that is down.
    • Water
    • Foodstuffs that can be eaten cold. (Described in Item number 4.)
    • A small First Aid kit
    • A small tool kit, a jack that works and a spare tire in usable condition, and jumper cables.
  4. If you become stranded in your car, FIRST test your cell phone. If it has reception, call an emergency number first, then call the persons that are aware of your route and your travel time schedule. Test the cell phone periodically. Do not try to walk over for help. Exit the car ONLY to recover items from the trunk.
  5. Put the car cover on the vehicle with the bright, reflective X side out. Position the X on the roof the best you can. The car cover will help retain heat inside the car and repel the cold, wind, and drafts. If you are in a severe situation, the reflective X can be seen by aircraft that may be conducting a search for you. Your license plate numbers will be visible to a search and rescue team working on the ground.


  • Don't forget your pets! They will need food and water and warmth, too.
  • When removing ice that has formed on your windows, use your vehicle’s defrost unit for a few minutes. This will help loosen the ice, making it easier to scrape with a plastic scraper. Do NOT pour water or run the garden hose over the frozen window.


  • Keep candles and/or oil lamps a safe distance from flammable materials such as drapery, furniture and bedding. Extinguish all candles and lamps before you plan for sleep. Not doing so is very dangerous.

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